Android 4.4 may have an “always listening” mode, like the Moto X

October 14, 2013
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If the Moto X “Ok, Google Now” functionality has you wishing your device had it, you may be in luck. While the uber-cool Moto X is one of the best Android phones available, customization is still limited to AT&T, and it’s a bit expensive for many users.


Earlier this year, Qualcomm announced voice activation with their new Snapdragon 800 chipset. That functionality is baked right into the SoC, which is (still allegedly, mind you) set to ship with the Nexus 5. Couple that with some info found from the Android 4.4 info we’we've been hearing, and it looks as though we may get a type of Moto X capability on our new Nexus device.

According to various sources, Android 4.4 may get a “listening mode” for Google Now. While not as intrusive as the Moto X capability, which always listens for your commands, this functionality is said to be available from the home screen, meaning the device would need to be unlocked first. The final command language isn’t set yet, so we’re not sure if it will be the “OK, Google” we currently say, or “OK, Google Now” as the Moto X asks of us.

Interestingly, Google has also started adding “google” into package language. For some Google-centric applications, the code now reads com.google.android.whatever, whereas it previously read com.android.whatever. This is significant for a few reasons, but specific to an always listening mode is the Snapdragon chipset.

Nexus-5

If Google is adding -- well, google -- to code language, it could be to have those apps managed by Google Play Services. In that situation, it’s plausible to think that Google could recognize your device, and which of these functions could be utilized. A Nexus 4 (which does not have a Snapdragon 800, and thus no voice activation in the hardware) may not be able to handle such a “listening” function. An LG G2 or Sony Xperia Z1 would.

Still no official word on Android 4.4, or the new Nexus. We can speculate and pontificate all we like, but let’s keep a few things in mind. First, we’re probably seeing older builds of Android 4.4, so things could change. It’s unlikely that Google would remove capabilities, but not out of the question. Second, we simply haven’t seen a final Nexus 5 running a final version of Android 4.4 yet. We remain hopeful that all the good news we hear and see will stick around, but it’s cautious optimism.


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  • http://silverfang77.tumblr.com/ Silver Fang

    And who is always listening through this “always listening” function?

    • Nick Rhodes

      Um… the phone.

  • Mark Coppock

    Not to be picky (okay, maybe just a little), why use old renders that no longer resemble the actual physical images we’ve seen of the Nexus 5?

    • Kishan

      Same q here!

  • Mike

    funny, given the age of increased surveillance and NSA spying, people are actually excited to get this feature on their phone?! wth is wrong with you people?

    • PmC

      You really think this information would be sent to the NSA? If so, custom ROM cookers would definitely find such functionality, and remove it. Besides, no matter how custom a chip could be created, Wifi is always a power drain, and there’s no way you wouldn’t notice the lower battery life. Unless it does the uploading only when charging, like other auto-uploading applications…And maybe it’s baked into the NDK compiler’s compiler via a backdoor route that no one can see…*Puts tinfoil hat on*

    • MauriceGriffin

      I thought about that when I got my Moto X. But I’m pretty sure if the NSA wants to listen to a smartphones mic, they have ways, whatever device you have.

  • Cal Rankin

    That would be an interesting feature, especially if it were no longer a Motorola exclusive. That would make their “Lazy Phone” commercials moot, unless compared to a different OS

  • Noel

    I just hope there is some validity to the rumor of a 32GB and 3000mAh battery Nexus 5 model. I desperately want a new Nexus with a bigger battery…the 2300mAh one will not suffice.

  • e Blogga

    Can they change that “OK google”…I want to reprogram it to listen to “Kirk to Enterprise”…

    • Henry Case

      I was wondering the same for myself. Planning on the moto x soon, and I feel like I saw somewhere that you could change it to recognize a custom command, starting with “ok…” whic would be swell. “Ok, Kirk to enterprise” or as Im planning… “Ok, Wintermute.”

      • Netazah

        Ok Wintermute. I’m sorry but 100% stealing that. That or ‘Ok, Dixie”