Ok Google: Features, Uses, Problems and Troubleshooting

Android phones have the feature of simply telling your phone to get ready for a command by saying two words. This is a great and important feature. However, everything has its flaws, and there are some things that many people become frustrated with because they do not know about the problems it has.


Your Android phone has options for your lock screen. You can browse the options in the settings menu either from the shortcut or the drop-down menu on the top of the screen. From there, you should see options like no security at the lock screen.

This means that you can just swipe away the screen saver to get into the home screen. You can also select passwords, patterns, or pin codes. There are several other methods to unlock your phone, but the easiest is to just talk to your device. However, you will need to set up your device before you go screaming at your phone.

There are quite a few steps to complete for your device to listen and even recognize your voice. For some people, it does not work the best, and they get frustrated.

Uses for the Feature

Obviously, you can unlock your phone with the command, but what this really does is it gets your device ready for other commands. It is like any other voice command device: you must say a “wake” command before yelling at the screen and telling it to do stuff. Once the application is ready to listen, you can do the following:

  • “Open” (Any application on your smartphone, tablet, or computer
  • “Call” (Anyone in your contacts)
  • “Text” (Anyone in your contacts)
  • “Send E-mail” (Anyone in your contacts; you can also CC and BCC others)
  • “Show me last messages”
  • “Create a calendar event”
  • “Set an alarm for…”
  • “Note to self”
  • “Start a list for…”“Show me…” (Any application or file)

Search Commands

There is an infinite amount of questions you can ask your Google assistant. Just say, “OK Google” and go ahead with your question. Here are a few examples:

  • Basic searches, for example, “Search monoliths in Arizona.”
  • When special events are, such as, “When is the next full moon?”
  • Use it as an interactive dictionary or thesaurus. “Define, Synonyms for, Antonyms for, etc…”
  • Look up phone numbers or other contact information of a business. “What is the phone number for Pizza Hut?”
  • Use alternative phrases to ask for the weather forecast. “Do I need an umbrella?”
  • Keep up to date with stock prices. “What is the price of NFTY?”
  • Use it as a calculator. “What is 4.5% of 5,697?”
  • Look up the history of a certain place or people in history. “Who is Daniel Boon?” “Where did he live?”
  • Ask how-to questions. “How do I make an Old Fashioned? How do I fix drywall?” Your phone will look up the query and find the best answer for you to research the problem.
  • “Take me home. Navigate to Pizza Hut. Where is the nearest gas station?”


  • Find sports updates. Do not miss the scores of any games while you are engaged in something else. “What is the score of the Colts game?”
  • Naming any sports team will bring up their team information.
  • Ask Google to show you the trailer for a new movie you may want to see.
  • Then, ask Google to list show times at nearby theaters.
  • You can ask Google to play a certain album or song and then ask about the artist.

Other Nifty Things Google Can Do

  • “Give me ideas for a Christmas gift.”
  • “Metronome.” This will start a metronome. You can also change the speed of the beat.
  • Ask any medical information. “What is a gallbladder?”
  • “When will my package arrive?” If there is a tracking number in your Gmail account, it will look it up and tell you where your package is.
  • “Flip a coin.”
  • “Roll a die.”
  • “Beam me up, Scotty.”

Control Your Phone and Adjust the Settings

You have complete voice control over your device’s settings. Whatever you want to change, simply say, “OK Google, change the brightness of the display to 80%.” You can also do the following”

  • Turn on the flashlight
  • Turn the Wi-Fi off or on.
  • Find your phone. You can do this on a computer or tablet, and then it will make your lost phone ring so you can find it.
  • Set the volume
  • Take a picture. You can also have Google open the camera app and then say “Shoot” when you want it to take a picture.
  • “Take a selfie.” It will open the camera app, invert the camera towards you, and snap a picture.

The voice commands can also be very helpful when traveling. When you are in another country that doesn’t speak your native language, it can be tough to break down the barrier, so Google has integrated a great translator to help people communicate with each other more effectively. There is nothing lost in translation when you ask it to translate for you.

Simply tell your phone to “translate to English” or whatever your preferred language is. It will listen to the other language and translate automatically. It will display the words so you can read them, or it can sound the words, so it is like talking to the person or having your own personal translating assistant. This also works the other way around.

If you approach a shop and don’t know how to communicate that you want to buy an item, you can ask Google to translate what you want to what language you want it in. For example, “OK Google, translate to French. I would like to buy this souvenir; how much is it?” It will then put the phrase in text or say the phrase so you can show the shopkeeper.

You can also ask it to convert currency. When they tell you how much the item is, you can then convert it into a currency you are familiar with to decide how expensive the item is. Obviously, the navigation part of the voice commands can also be extremely helpful when traveling. With your location turned on, you can ask Google to give you information about where you are.

If you are in Paris, you can say, “OK Google, tell me the history of this place.” It will then tell you a brief history of the city of Paris or a special place you are nearby. You can be as specific as you want with this feature. You can also check flight time, see delays, and check the weather or news in the area you are traveling to.

The possibilities of the Google search and assistant is virtually endless. Whatever is on the internet, Google can use to answer your questions. It has been personalized in a wonderful way as well. Your Google account can house a large amount of information securely, so you can access it anytime you need just by asking.

Problems with the “OK Google” Feature

There has never been anything created, especially with anything electronic, without its fair share of problems. When the technology was new, it was tough to even use it because it would simply not work right. The biggest problem that it ran into was voice recognition. When people speak, it sounds the same only because the syllables are being spoken in the same way.

However, everyone’s voice is different, and they speak the words differently. Therefore, you see some people using this feature who are talking loud and slow at their phones. This is because the application is having a tough time understanding what the person is saying for one reason or another. It has gotten significantly better over the years.

Now, it is personalized enough to where the application can understand your voice alone and use it as a security measure if you choose. The more you use the voice feature, the more it learns about what you say and how you say it, so it gets better over time. If you use the voice security feature, it will learn your voice, and it will not unlock the phone unless it hears your voice. It has been said that this feature could use some work. People have been able to mimic someone’s voice to unlock their phone.

Another problem is getting words confused. If you ask, “OK Google, what is the best dog to get if you have a baby?” This is a pretty important question to ask. But, it might search, “What is the best hot dog to get for your baby?”

That is a weird question that no one has ever asked before. Getting the application to recognize your exact words can be troublesome. Now, you will be prompted to set up the application before you can even use it. This is for good reason. It must learn your voice and recognize your commands, or else, it will ask about hot dogs for babies.

There have not been many reports recently about the application crashing or affecting other applications or features on any devices. As it stands right now, it is problem-free, and it works well. To stay problem free, do your best to enunciate your words but not to the point of spelling it out for it. Speak clearly and with intent. This is the best way for the feature to learn your voice.

Troubleshooting Problems and Errors

There are a few settings that must be correct before you despair and throw your phone because the feature is not working. An unresponsive voice command application can be very frustrating.

Here are the settings you need to be on for it to work:

  1. Access the accessibility settings from the menu; from there, you will see the option for Voice Access. This must be turned on for the voice commands to register with the device.
  1. It will then brief you on the permissions it needs to work. Select OK, and this will allow applications to hear your words and understand them.
  1. Make sure you have the right applications downloaded and updated. In Google Play, you can see all the different apps and features that Google provides. Read about each of them, but all you really need is the basic Google application to use the voice command feature.
  1. Ensure the language settings are where you want them. This can all be accessed in the settings menu.
  1. Ensure your microphone works on your device and that it is turned on.
  2. Re-train your voice. During the training process, it will ask you to say phrases and words, and this will help the application better understand your voice.


The Google voice assistant and the OK Google feature is an excellent tool for anyone to benefit from. You can use if for business, everyday work, or personal use. It is especially great for people with special needs and disabilities.

People with physical ailments can use the voice assistant feature to select what they want to do on their phone. Instead of tapping and swiping, they tell the device what to do, and it is fast and easy. This technology is evolving at a very fast rate.

There are multiple companies that are researching how to make voice control better for everyday devices. With every update, you will find another feature and upgrade as it becomes increasingly like a real personal assistant inside the screen.

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