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.
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.