“Ok Google” is cool because it just works. The hands-free search activation installed on the vast majority of Android devices makes looking stuff up as simple as talking, but that doesn’t necessarily mean everyone wants it.
If you don’t have “Ok Google” on your phone, then you first need the Google app. The Google app adds the ability to utter “Ok Google” to conduct inquiries and searches with your voice (but only from the app).
If you want to extend “Ok Google” to work on your home screens, then you’ll need the Google Now Launcher.
When you install and activate the Google Now Launcher, you swipe right from your primary home screen. This will show your Google Now cards. With the launcher installed, and the “Ok Google” feature turned on, you can conduct searches with your voice (hands-free) from any of your home screens.
Google’s voice search isn’t perfect (though neither is Siri or Cortana), but it works surprisingly well, and we’ve done a considerable amount of searching this way. You can also use “Ok Google” to perform certain tasks, such as calling contacts, opening apps, and mapping routes.
With all this convenience, you might be wondering why anyone would ever disable it. That said, it probably isn’t a feature everyone wants to use.
Digging into the Google App’s Settings
You can also add even more power to “Ok Google” if you like, such as being able to execute a search even when your device is locked or when you’re using another app.
The surest way to access the voice settings is to open your app drawer and tap the “Google Settings” button.
If you’re using Google Now, you can tap the three lines in the upper-left corner.
And from the resulting menu, tap “Settings.”
There’s a lot of stuff here, and we’ve talked previously about the Location settings. For today’s purposes, we want to tap “Search & Now.”
You next want to tap “Voice,” which will let you decide how and to what length, you use your voice to interface with your Android device.
You can set your default language, or hands-free use with a Bluetooth or wired headset, stuff like that. Of course, as you may have figured out by now, we are most interested in the “‘Ok Google’ detection” settings.
By default, you can activate search with “Ok Google” from the Google app or any home screen (as long you’re using the Google Now Launcher). Note, if you want to turn “Ok Google” detection off at this point, then disable the “From the Google app” setting, and you’re done.
With the “From any screen” option, you can enable “Ok Google” to work from any screen, such as if you’re working with another app or the screen is on but locked. Also, when you turn on the “From any screen” option, you can conduct searches when your device is charging but the screen is off.
To do this, you will have to train “Ok Google” to your voice. Activating search with your phone locked is potentially a security problem, so it’s important that your device only respond to your voice.
Finally, you can allow “Personal results” meaning that you can have your device do things that you can only accomplish when the phone is unlocked. This might include accessing your contacts or searching email which, as you can imagine, probably is best left off.
Again, you can’t use this feature without training your device to recognize your voice. We can’t really recommend you circumvent your device’s primary security layer for this type of convenience. It’s best to unlock your phone to do anything involving potentially sensitive information.
If you want to delete or retrain your voice mode (a good idea if your device isn’t recognizing your voice), then you can exercise that option from the choices at the bottom.
We hope this makes it clear how to disable or extend the capabilities of “Ok Google.” If you have any questions or comments, we invite you to leave your feedback in our discussion forum.