When Google and Motorola first revealed the Moto X, one of its most appealing features was Touchless Control. As the words suggest, Touchless Control allows you to throw voice commands at the phone without having to physically interact with it. Just begin by saying “OK, Google” or “OK, Google Now”, if your Moto X is in the vicinity, it will pick up your voice command and respond accordingly. Although this feature internally uses Google Now for processing speech commands (which is also available for other Android devices running version 4.1 or above), it’s the touchless aspect that truly sets it apart. Hands-free control gives you the freedom to “use” your phone from a limited distance.
Touchless Control is actually a separate app from Motorola that works with Google Now. The app runs in low power mode waiting for the launch phrase “Ok, Google”. Moto X also has a physical co-processor to recognize trained voices and analyze voice commands. As soon as the launch phrase is identified, the command is either executed directly, or sent to Google Now for further processing. Touchless Control app is even available on Google Play; but currently, it works for a limited number of devices only.
Touchless Control on all Android devices
If you have a phone that gives you the pure Android experience (like the Moto G, Nexus 4 or Nexus 5), sometimes you might have felt the need for Moto X’s Touchless Control feature too. But in fact, you can get this feature on all devices running Android version 4.1 and up.
Update: According to the Inside Search blog, Google has just released a new update for the Google Search app that enables the “OK, Google” feature to be used from any active screen of your Android KitKat (or later) powered devices. Although, it’s not Touchless Control, it’s as close an official alternative as it can get. The version of Google Search app that enables this feature is v3.5 (according to Google’s official post). But as of this writing, we’re yet to see the update for Moto G on the Play Store.
Official Touchless Control for supported devices
The official Touchless Control app from Motorola is available for Droid Ultra, Droid Mini and Droid Maxx only (other than Moto X, where it comes in-built). So, if you possess these devices, you can install the official Touchless Control app in them and enjoy the hands-free control feature of Moto X on your phone.
- Download and install Touchless Control from Google Play.
- Open the app and configure it to run at startup.
- And that’s it. You will now be able to command your phone just by saying “OK, Google”.
Touchless Control for other Android (4.1+) devices
If you own any other Android phone running JellyBean or KitKat, you can also get the same hands-free experience via a third party app called Open Mic+. This app brings the Touchless Control (OK, Google) feature of Moto X right into your JellyBean (Android version: 4.1, 4.2 and 4.3) or KitKat (Android version 4.4) powered devices. The app can be downloaded for free from Google Play Store. There is even a paid (donation-based) version which you can buy if you want to support the developer.
Similar to Motorola’s own Touchless Control app, Open Mic+ is a standalone app that runs in the background listening for voice commands. On receiving the phrase “OK, Google”, the app will trigger Google Now. Once Google Now has been triggered, it will process your voice commands and answer back accordingly. Open Mic+ also lets you change the key phrase used to trigger Google Now if you don’t like saying “OK, Google”. Additionally, the app can also be configured to start on boot, giving you a more integrated Google Now like experience.
Enable Touchless Control on any Android device
- First, check whether you are running a compatible Android version. Go to Settings >> About phone/tablet and check the number under Android version. It should be 4.1 or above.
- Next, check if Google Search app is installed on the device. If not, install it from the Play Store.
- Download and install Open Mic+ from Google Play.
- If you want to launch automatically on startup, you can do so via the in-app Settings. Optionally, you can change the “OK, Google” Hot phrase more oriented towards your liking.
- Now lock your phone, move away from it and say the hot phrase. Google Now will spring up on your phone, ready to receive your voice command!
Note: It has come to our notice that Open Mic+ is having functionality issues on some Android devices. According to several reports, the app is unable to catch the hot phrase when the screen is locked and turned off. In some cases, the app also shuts down automatically. This may be because of the implementation of power management features by Android or device manufacturers, which restrict background tasks from third party applications in locked state. Fortunately though, the app’s developer is open to user feedback and is actively working to fix these device-specific issues. If you have faced any issues with Open Mic+ on your Android device, you can get in touch with the developer via Google Plus.
The free version has all the features available in the paid version and also comes without ads. However, according to the developer, only the paid version will be updated with new features. Meanwhile, the free version will only receive bug fixes and performance improvements. So, if you want to get the latest feature support from the app, it is recommended that you buy the paid (donate) version.