Google Voice Command Can Now Change Some Device Settings

The Google Voice Assistant system works using the Google Search function: depending on your device, you can say, "Okay Google" and then tell it what you want it to search for. The system works by sending information to the Google cloud server farm, which interprets what you say and then sends the information back. The advantage of this system is that it means Google can upgrade and enhance the service for all users by changing things at their server side... and with this in mind, for those customers with devices running Android 5.0 Lollipop we've a new feature for you to try out: you can now tell your device to adjust some settings.

Currently, this works with WiFi, Bluetooth and the flashlight. Simply tell Google to turn on (or off) the particular service and it will let you know that it's received and understood your command, then make it happen. The Google Search application also produces a card that you can use in order to reverse the decision should you suddenly realise that you wanted to keep that particular radio or service running. If you try to adjust something that the Google Search application cannot control, such as Location Settings, the application will pull up the relevant setting for you. That's a better solution than it either ignoring your command or telling you that it can't do that. Given how Google roll out undocumented features these might have been present for some time. Perhaps the service is undocumented pending Google making it available across all aspects of the device, such as screen brightness, NFC or AutoSync.

Using my voice to change the settings on my Android 'phone or tablet is cleaner than using a widget and quicker than using the drop down menu. It's also awkward to be talking to my device in a public place, but having another way to control certain features is great. The flashlight function is probably the most useful one for me as there are times when I only have one hand free, usually when I'm trying to get into the house at night carrying something.

Unfortunately, these voice settings only work with Android Lollipop. Trying the same thing on a device with Android Kit Kat simply brings up the settings dialogue box and it's unclear if the changes will be rolled back to the older version of Android. If you have a device running Android Lollipop, go ahead and give the new voice settings a go and let us know how you get on!

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About the Author

David Steele

Senior Staff Writer
I grew up with 8-bit computers and moved into PDAs in my professional life, using a number of devices from early Windows CE clamshells and later. Today, my main devices are a Nexus 5X, a Sony Xperia Z Tablet and a coffee cup.