Google Goes All-In With “OK, Google” Hands-Free Search

OK GoogleThe evolution of voice-controlled search into a virtual personal assistant took another step forward with Google’s announcement that all Android-powered devices (KitKat or above) will now respond to the “hotword” OK, Google.

Users can initiate a search or control and carry out any function on the device simply by saying “OK, Google” first and then asking the question or stating the command: “Call XYZ . . . open my email”:

Starting today, you can say “Ok Google” on your Android device whenever the screen is on or your device is charging. If you’re reading your email, browsing the web or using any app that doesn’t actively use the microphone, saying “Ok Google” will get you the answers you need and let you take actions like set an alarm or call a friend. 

Google also allows OK, Google to operate from the lock screen if enabled. Previously the Moto X was the only Android device that permitted this capability.

In my view this is a differentiator for Android devices on the eve of Apple’s move into larger-screen hardware, which will reduce that Android advantage.

Voice control/search will soon be the primary way that users interact with Android devices, especially as the operating system expands into cars, onto wrists and on TV sets.