The Moto X is a compelling device in large part due to the pre-loaded apps that come with it. Active Notifications is one that we would love to see make it into Android 4.4. Kit Kat. Moto X owners swear by it. Another great Moto X app is Touchless Control. Google and Motorola are actively pushing speech-recognition research. They want us to talk to our phones. It’s just easier to say something to your device than it is to pick it up, sometimes. There are developers working on bringing apps similar to Touchless Control to us. One of those apps is Open Mic+ for Google Now.
If you’re not familiar with Open Mic+ for Google Now, it is built and maintained by XDA Forums member RSenG2x. It brings the same basic functionality as Touchless Control to almost any device. It’s pretty easy to use. The default phrase to wake up your device is “Okay Google.” This action launches the app and hands you off to Google Now, which is set and ready to listen for your voice commands. It’s almost as seamless as Touchless Control on the Moto X. Open Mic+ uses offline voice recognition, so you don’t need a data connection to use it. The app runs in the background all the time and may cause increased battery drain, though. Because it’s always on and always listening, it prevents your smartphone from entering deep sleep. The Moto X deals with this by dedicating a processor core to listening for your commands. Most current gen devices don’t have this computing system in place, so your whole device remains passively listening for commands.
There is a bit of controversy surrounding the app because it was recently pulled from the Google Play Store. The specific reason for the removal was given as “Violation of section 4.3 of the Developer Distribution Agreement” which reads:
You agree that if you use the Market to distribute Products, you will protect the privacy and legal rights of users. If the users provide you with, or your Product accesses or uses, user names, passwords, or other login information or personal information, you must make the users aware that the information will be available to your Product, and you must provide legally adequate privacy notice and protection for those users.
Google is notoriously vague with these types of situations. The developer thinks that the specific reason has to do with how Open Mic+ remains active and listening at all time, potentially transmitting everything your microphone hears to a server somewhere. It may simply be that RSenG2x needs to clarify how the app acts when people go to download it. The dev has made it very clear that anything the device hears is transmitted to Google’s servers, not his own. Open Mic+ merely acts as a bridge to open the Google Now app.
Open Mic+ for Google Now has moved to this XDA Forums thread and is also available through the Amazon app store. It does offer Tasker integration if you’re interested in setting up even more voice commands. If you try it out, let us know how it treats your battery.