What is OK Google? How to use OK Google from any screen on your phone in the UK

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You’ve probably seen the TV ads for OK Google, but what is OK Google and how do you use it? We explain everything you need to know about OK Google, including how to access the Google Now voice search from any screen on your phone, even if you live outside the US. Also see: How Siri, Cortana and Google Now are replacing our brains

What is OK Google?

“OK Google” is the voice command used to activate Google Now voice search on your Android smartphone, as well as other Google devices such as its Google Glass smartglasses (check out our awesome video of Google Glass).

Google Now can be accessed by opening your phone’s Google Search app or Google Search widget and either tapping the microphone icon or saying “OK Google”. Alternatively, you can set up your Android smartphone to recognise the “OK Google” command no matter in what app or screen you’re currently browsing. This latter feature is technically available to users in the US, but don’t let that stop you… Also see: Android Advisor.

What can you ask OK Google?

You can ask Google Now pretty much anything you like, just as you normally would with Google Search. However, you can also use the “OK Google” command to set alarms, make calls and texts, schedule meetings and more on your Android device.

by Marie Brewis

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Teach Google Now new voice commands

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Google Now is great for getting directions, checking the weather, looking up the definition of a word, or just searching the Web, but that’s no longer all it can do. With the help of a free app called Commandr for Google Now, you can toggle Wi-Fi on or off, pause your music, or ask your phone to read your text messages out loud, all by speaking a few simple voice commands.

Commandr plugs into Google Now’s voice assistant to let you control your phone by speaking to it, and it’s particularly helpful for when you can’t use your screen, like when you’re driving. It works by reading the text that Google transcribes when you speak in Google Now’s voice search.

The app debuted at the beginning of July, but was slightly limited at the get-go. After you launched Google Now, you had to say “note to self” first, then the command you wanted. Just a few weeks after launching, an update changed that, and now you can simply state your desired command, such as “GPS on” or “raise volume.” Here’s how to get started, and a few ways you can use it.

Step 1: Set up the app

After you’ve downloaded and installed Commandr, go through the app’s short setup process. You get two choices here: you can either give the app accessibility access on your phone so it can listen your commands, or you can use a limited version of Commandr that requires you to say “note to self” before each command.

If you choose the former, Commandr walks you through a short setup process to activate the accessibility service on your phone in the settings menu. Just so you know, accessibility services are often used for apps or with built-in features designed for those with visual or hearing impairments.

Step 2: Pick your commands

After you’re all setup, it’s time to pick which commands you want to use. Tap the Built-in Commands section of the home screen, and you’ll get a list of pre-installed commands that you can turn on or off. A few examples of built-in choices are:

  • Toggling your flashlight on or off
  • Turning Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or cellular data on or off
  • Skip to the next song (skips to the next track, but only in the Google Play Music app)
  • Read your unread SMS messages out loud
  • Lowering your phone’s system or ringtone volume

With each command, the app tells you the exact phrase you say to execute it — they aren’t difficult to remember, but it’s helpful to know the magic words. You can customize the phrase as well, to fit whatever makes sense for you.

Commandr’s developer, Ryan Senanayake, is working on adding new commands to the app, and you can help by voting for suggestions that other users have submitted to show which commands are most popular. You can view and vote for the latest contenders by tapping “Vote for New Commands” at the bottom of the Built-in Commands page. If there’s a command you’d like added that’s not already on that list, just tap the “Suggest a New Command” button to submit it.

by Sarah Mitroff

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How to master voice control on Android: Going beyond Google Now

Optimizing Google Now

Google Now Accounts Privacy Settings 220x391 How to master voice control on Android: Going beyond Google NowBefore we download the third-party app, let’s go over a few settings for Google Now that make the voice control experience better on Android.

Launch Google Now on your phone and tap on the Menu button in the bottom-right corner of the screen (you may have to scroll down to get to it). Make sure Google Now is turned on and then tap on the Voice option. The main thing I want you to do here is go into the “Offline speech recognition” settings and ensure that your language is installed (if it is supported).

Go back to the main settings screen and select “Accounts & privacy”. Here, I prefer to keep “Google location settings” turned on, with both the Location History and Location Reporting features enabled. Web History is also checked.

Most importantly, make sure that you turn on the “Contact recognition” feature if you’d like to use Google Now to be able to call and text your contacts using voice instructions. Also ensure that the “Show updates from Google Now” feature is enabled under Notifications, if you’d like to use its excellent Reminders feature.

Voice recognition is only one of the two important parts of a virtual assistant; the other is text-to-speech. You need your voice assistant to sound human, and there’s some setup involved in getting there. Go into the Settings app on your phone and navigate to ‘Language & input » Text-to-speech output’. Tap on the Settings button next to “Google Text-to-speech engine” and then on “Install voice data”. Select your language and download the “high quality” voice for it if it is available. That done, you’re all set to proceed.

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Not sure what music to listen to, just ask Google Now on Android to “play some music”

OK Google Music Feeling Lucky

Google is well known for its shenanigans and easter eggs when it comes to search, just try a Google search for “askew” to see them in action. So when Google Now on Android gets a cool new voice activated feature, I wonder if it is an easter egg or a full blown feature. This time around, try following up “Okay, Google” with “play some music” and you’ll get an “I’m feeling lucky” radio station fired up in the Google Play Music app.

The “I’m feeling lucky” radio station pertains to All Access users, but don’t worry if you do not subscribe to All Access, it will instead fire up an “I’m feeling lucky” instant mix out of your music. Assuming you’ve taken the time to upload your tunes to Google’s Play Music cloud storage, and have the latest Google Play Music app installed, of course.

To take advantage of this cool feature, in addition to the Play Music app, you’ll need to be running Android 4.1 or higher and have the latest Google Search app installed. If you do not know what I’m talking about, simply swipe up from the Home button on your device, if the Google Now search tool pops up, you are on the right track.

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Google Now Lets You Star And Sync Your Google Contacts To Your Android Favorites

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An announcement from Google today lets us know about a wonderful new feature available for Google Contacts. You can now “star” people to your hearts content, and any one of those people or google contacts that you “star” will sync to your Android device’s “favorites” in the contact list. This feature has certainly been a long time coming and were not quite sure why it took this long to show up, but hey we’re not complaining and now that it’s here were much appreciative.

This feature has been available inside Gmail for some time now, on the browser version and on the Android version, with which you can star certain emails from your inbox and it will favorite the contact the email came from. Those emails are than placed into a “starred” category so you can get to them later without having to sift through tons of emails just to find the one you want, but having to sift through tons of emails is something that probably only happens to some people who don’t clear out their inbox often enough, which admittedly is a group I personally fall into most of the time. Since starring a contact will sync it with your Android device, that means that you can also star a contact ON your Android device and it will sync with your desktop via Gmail.

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10 Essential Android 4.3 Tips and Tricks

Android 4.3 is a mature mobile operating system and it’s quite easy to use, but you can make it even more useful to you with these essential tips and tricks. Remember that, while some of these might work on other versions of Android, too, most of them are for Android 4.3 and later.

1. Create Restricted Profiles for Users

If you have a child and he’s playing around with your Android tablet, you might want to make sure they don’t have access to something they don’t need to see. That is why the Restricted Profiles feature can be extremely useful. You can basically decide which apps the user of the profile has access to and also if he can use the Google Play Store to add new apps.

2. Use an Office Suite to Manage Documents

If you’re travelling a lot, you’ll probably need to access and edit documents on the go. In order to do so, a full-fledged office suite, which can handle different types of files, is a must.

The good news is that there are some great free office suites out there. The first one that comes to my mind is Kingsoft Office, which is one of the best free office suites for Android. It allows you to open no less than 23 types of document files, including DOC, DOCX, XLS, XLSX, PPT, PPTX or PDF.

3. Use Google Now to Get Information When You Need It

Google Now, which some find creepy, specializes in providing you with the information you need, the second you need it. It can provide you with flight data before your flight, sports scores for your favorite teams, weather, photo spots around you and more. It’s easy to use – most of the time, it does everything on its own.

What’s even nicer is that a recent update has provided it with location-based reminders. Basically, that means that you’ll be notified to do something when you’re in a specific place. Even if you do find Google Now’s prediction abilities strange, this can come in handy.

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How to manage your Google Now Reminders

Google Now RemindersWithin just a short period of time, Google released two updates that show it really wants people to start using Google Now and its Reminders feature. The first update to Google Keep added the option to set reminders for notes, which tie into Google Now. The second update to Google Now itself adds the ability to set reminders for your favorite artists and TV shows.

Google Now Reminders has a lot of potential, but currently the biggest issue with it is the lack of easily accessible editing. Let’s say you set a reminder to get alerted when there’s new episodes of a TV show, but later you change your mind. How do you delete the reminder? Or if you set a reminder in Google Now — not Keep — and need to change the time or location you need to be alerted, where do you edit the reminder?

  • In order to delete or edit a currently set reminder, you’ll need to launch Google Now and then scroll to the bottom of your cards. From there, tap on the menu icon and select “Settings” followed by “My Stuff” and finally Reminders.
  • After going through the chain of taps, you’ll see a list of your currently set reminders, both from Keep and Now. There’s no indication of where each reminder originated, but they’re both there nonetheless (why Google Now Reminders don’t show up in Keep is a mystery). Tapping on an Ongoing reminder will give you the option to delete it, as will selecting a Past reminder.
  • Editing an upcoming reminder simply requires you to tap on it, change the alert options, and save.

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