by James A. Martin

New Google Now Voice Commands for Android Mostly Miss the Mark

Mar 25, 20142 mins
AndroidComplianceMobile Apps

Google recently added new voice commands to its Android Search app. Unfortunately, some of the commands don't work well, according to blogger James A. Martin, and others simply aren't very useful.

Google Now is one of my favorite newish Google features. Thanks to a recent update to the Google Search Android app, you have more voice-command options for Google Now. The new commands are cool, but do they really  save you time — or even work properly?

Google Now is part of the Google Search app, and it lets you use Google-Glass-like voice commands to open your Android’s camera and take a picture or record a video. For example, on your Android home screen, you can tap the Google search bar or swipe up from the bottom to launch the Google Search app. Then say “record a video” or “take a video” (or add “OK Google” before you speak the phrase as needed), and Google Now opens the Android camera app in video-recording mode.


You can, of course, just put your Camera app on your Android home page, then simply tap it and, if necessary, switch to video mode. In my tests, both took about the same amount of time — when Google Now understood me. In several instances, it misunderstood my commands and showed me pages of search results related to video recordings. Not helpful.

Google also added a few other vocal tricks to Google Search for Android, but not, as of this writing, to its iOS cousin. The new “Listen to TV” command is designed to work like Shaazam and identify songs currently playing on your TV. In the three tests I performed, though, this feature failed. For instance, I turned on my TV, found a station playing a Miley Cyrus “Bangerz” song, and said “OK Google, listen to TV.” Google listened — and then displayed information about a 2011 Australian film entitled “The Hunter.” The Cyrus song was released in 2013. Again, not helpful.

You can also ask Google Now to launch other apps, with commands including “Open Twitter,” as long as those apps are installed on your device. In my tests, this feature worked fine.

One cool new feature that worked well for me: Say “OK Google, play some music,” and Google launches Google Play Music with an “I’m feeling lucky” radio station, which features music choices based on your prior listening.

Google Now is constantly evolving. And even though its latest features are a bit hit-or-miss, I look forward to the next batch of enhancements.