Google Search update lets you activate Now from any screen

Google Search has been updated, adding the ability to activate Google Now from any screen or app on your device. This includes the lockscreen, which will now listen for your "Ok Google" command.

Always-on listening has been available to Moto X users because of the phone's always-listening chip, this is the first time that device-wide voice activation of Google Now will be available to Android at large. You can turn on the feature by going into Google Search's Voice settings area and selecting "Ok Google" Detection. From there, you'll be able to choose From any screen and, separately, From lock screen.

In addition to voice activation in any app, Google Search adds Audio History. This feature allows Google Search to learn the sound of your voice, making your searches more accurate. You can manage your Audio History, as well as turn it on and off, in the Google Search Voice settings.

The update is currently rolling out through the Google Play Store, so it might take some time before you see it. What do you think of these updates to Google Search? Tell us below in the comments.


Reader comments

Google Search update lets you activate Now from any screen


It should be noted that even if you sideload the latest apk it still wont work, its being rolled out to each account in turn.

you need to go into the setting of the search app and turn on the setting for lockscreen and any screen. still need to wake up the phone before "ok google" feature works though. just flashed the apk from AP.

Nope. If your account hasn't had it activated the option isnt even there. This has been confirmed a number of times when it was originally reported by Android Police earlier in the day.

My device has the update available, but I'm waiting for the team black out version. Be interesting to see how that plays out.

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Check the beta apps, last update was today. Hangouts was updated a couple of days ago.

I don't know why their "stable" releases are so sparse though, especially since the betas usually work 100% or close to.

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I have it on my Nexus 7 2012, but not my GS3 on vzw. G Search and a bunch of apps updated for Nexus 7 and only 3 apps were available on the GS3 to be updated, guessing N7 is wifi and GS3 on verizon has something to do with it.

Wait, what account needs to activate it? I'm trying to use it on my G2 and don't see the options for lock screen use, etc, either.

Yeah but it wont stay working whatever they do. all they are doing is allowing one use. Once used the server disables it again. It will work in a few days anyway.

I got it through the play store and don't have the option. Weird.

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That's because you still don't have the updated version. Google is rolling it out in groups. You may not see the new version on your account for a couple days.

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I have version So I'm pretty sure that's the latest. From the play store too.

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Weird so I have it on my flo but not mako. Both on the same app version.

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I just loaded Android "L" on my Nexus 5, it allowed me to set up the hot word detection from any screen (three ok google(s)). However, it removed the option after I finished setting it up. Even if you have the new Android "L" you aren't getting the hotword detection unless the account has been given the all clear.

Dope... i use the voice activation frequently but only from the home screen (as i use google now launcher on my note 3) but I've been waiting for the always active voice functionality for a while!!

NBLACKST: you speak of using Google launcher on your Note 3. I have the same though it won't download to my phone from the play store. If you don't mind, Who's your carrier? Thanks

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I'm curious why you would need to copy and past a few characters instead of just typing it... but hey, I wonder about weird things ;-)

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He's right, though. That's exactly what their website says. I sense a "whoops". I wonder which one it really is?

As long as the devs of your launcher have enabled hotword detection in their launchers,this should work.

Posted from my "KNOX-FREE" 4.3 Sprint GS3 Maxx...!!!

The OK Google hotword doesn't seem to work at all on Xperia Z (4.4.2). Just installed Open Mic+ to try and regain the functionality, really good works from most apps/screens but slightly hit and miss in launching.

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Sorry so we just have to wait for this extra setting options to pop up at some point?

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what's going to happen when i say OK google to my G watch? will both the phone and the watch beep?

I am assuming that when paired the watch will override the phone command. Or possibly you can choose in the settings of the companion app.

Don't tell me this is US only, v much looking forward to this!

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Yep, this is from the Google Now help section in the app:


You can use “Ok Google” on any screen if you’re an English speaker in the United States.

Your device must have:

Google Search app version 3.5+
Android 4.3+ (KitKat)
Audio History setting turned on

Cries to himself in the corner...

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I have this version (updated this morning) and I don't see the Audio HIstory setting nor will OK Google launch either Voice Search or Google Search on my GS3 which is running 4.4.2.

Several people have pointed out that, even with the new version of Now, you will have to wait for your device to get the newer version of the Play Services, and also for Google to toggle some kind of setting in your Google account. I'm sure that they're trying to roll it out in stages so that we don't bring down the server with everyone trying to play with it at once.

Add to the article that just receiving the update won't grant you the new feature. Android Police clarified that it's being rolled out to account names and not per app update. I have latest Play Services and updated search app and don't have the option to do this. AP shared that one of their writers had the features, rest of the team didn't. It is by user account.

Finally they have released the feature, but i have been using Nova Launcher for ever and they had this feature enabled for about a month now :)

Nova Launcher has had this, but required 4.4 or higher, i believe. The big question is if this will require 4.3 or 4.4. The help text says 4.3 (kitkat), but kitkat is really 4.4

Nova launcher lets you use it on any homescreen even with the widget not on the screen. it wont work in other apps though. i have nova prime and it wont let you open say the AC app and say "ok google" and open google now. only works on any homescreen

I'm happy that everyone is getting this, but I plan on turning it off so that it doesn't ruin the battery life of my Moto X.

Moto X has the feature built in, plus it has specialized hardware so that it will work all the time without eating the battery.

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Does this work if your language is set to English (UK), or only English (US)? If the latter, does the new version look ANY different, so that I'd know when it's active for my account (so, I can change language, if I so choose)?

I don't think it works for UK English yet. My Nexus 4 received the Google Search update ( a few days ago, and this morning I found new options in the Settings menu of Google Search. Those options are the keys to showing that you've been upgraded.

From the Settings menu I can now enable Audio History, and the "OK Google Detection > From any screen" and "From lock screen" options have appeared – but with UK English they are greyed out, and a note says: "This feature is currently unavailable for this language".

I changed the phone's setting to US English and "OK Google" works fine, including from the lock screen.

Will this really work from the lockscreen? Even with pin protection? Seems like it could potentially be a security issue. For instance, I have my N4 encrypted and my company's security policy forces a lock every 15 minutes of idle time.

I'm sure having a pin code will limit some features. You could potentially still ask stuff like "what's the temperature outside" and get a response without affecting security or privacy.

So what is the battery impact of having your phone listening all the time?

Andy, I suspect that if a security policy enforces the lock screen Google Now can still listen, but to view any results you'd still have to enter your PIN.

It only listens while the screen is on or the phone is plugged in, so battery drain is minimal.

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its funny bc im still trying to program google now to work without saying ok google now anymore but use ok google.

This is awesome. This is why I love google now over sir I or any other voice control you can now use it anywhere and has even more finctionality . I never use it sometimes only cause I ha e to hold the home button and what not on my galaxy mega but this helps a lot.

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It's about time. As much as I love my GS5 I really don't like S Voice. I'm just wondering how this will effect battery life?
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Galaxy S5

Does this work even of you're screen is off or do you have to turn the screen on first?

Not setting it yet.

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Serious privacy concerns with this development as this would mean collection all audio from a phone owner's surrounding.

Not here yet either... Fla, Nexus 7..2012, and Droid DNA vzw. Both just got updates from Play store.

sent from my Nos M7 DNA

just received the update for my M8, but okay google still not working, from any screen, waiting on the update for play services to see if it does the trick