Apple users have Siri, Windows 10 users can call upon Cortana, and Android users can use Ok Google. Ok Google can do a lot more than just look stuff up however, and it even rivals Siri in some ways.
Ok Google can be accessed by typically saying “Ok Google” or tapping the microphone button on the Google search bar on your Android tablet or phone.
It’s important to note that Ok Google is accessible if you have Google Now installed on your smartphone or tablet, so if you can’t access it, then you’ll first need to download and install Google Now from the Play Store if your version of Android supports it.
Alternatively, you can download and install the Google app and conduct voice searches on your Android or iOS device.
Many users might already use Ok Google to look stuff up because it plugs right into the mighty search engine. What you might not realize, is that it can do so much more and is, in fact, a fairly full-featured digital personal assistant.
Today, we want to take a tour of many of the things you can do with Ok Google and show you how it can make your life just a little bit more convenient and easier.
With Ok Google, you can open applications without touching your device, simply say, “Ok Google, open Pandora” or “open Netflix” and it will dutifully open them on your device.
If the application isn’t available, then you will have the option to download it from the Play Store.
Set Timers and Alarms
Need to set a quick timer for something you’re cooking? Maybe you want to take a short power nap. No problem, just tell Ok Google to “set a timer for 15 minutes” or “set an alarm for 6:30 PM” and that’s it.
When you start a timer, you simply specify the duration for your timer and it will begin automatically.
On the other hand, if you want to stop your timer or cancel your alarm, it seems that you have to still do so manually.
Not sure what something means or even how to spell it? You can ask Ok Google to define it for you so you always use the right word in the right place.
Now the next time you’re unsure whether you’re using the right word in the right context, you can just ask Ok Google.
Create Events and See Your Agenda
If you want to create events such as meetings and appointments, then you simply tell Ok Google to “create a meeting with so-and-so on x day at y time.”
If you want to see you agenda for the day, then ask Ok Google to show it to you by saying “see my agenda for [today][tomorrow][Friday]”.
This is a great way to stay on top of things. Not only will you be able to add events to your calendar so you don’t miss important meetings and appointments, but you can also review what’s upcoming so even if you haven’t created alerts, at least you’ll see everything laid out before you.
Call, Text, and Message People
Two other things you can do with Ok Google, both of which are similar and thus lumped under the same heading are the ability to call and text people.
This works just as it does with Siri. Simply queue up Ok Google and then ask it to call a contact or a number or text someone. Ok Google will either prompt you for further information, or you can dictate the message contents when you give the command.
Once you have your text message ready, you can send it on its way. Additionally, you can have Ok Google read your text messages back to you, which means that your eyes never need to leave what you’re doing.
You can also use Ok Google to send Hangouts messages as well as post to Twitter and Facebook.
Like sending texts, you can send emails. Just tell Ok Google to “send an email to [recipient]” and then you can either dictate the email or wait for Google to prompt you.
When you’re done, simply send the new email on its way. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that you can use Ok Google to read emails to you, but it will display them if you ask it to show you your emails.
We all know Google does navigation really well and you can use Ok Google to expedite it by telling it to map to addresses, businesses, and other locations.
So, you can have Google map you to the nearest coffee shop or car wash or navigate to a specific address with greater ease than typing it into your phone.
Check the Distance from Something and Between Places
Want to know how far apart two places are, such as if you need to plan your travel time for an upcoming trip? Ask Ok Google to show you the distance from point A to point B, and then you’ll also have further navigation options as well.
You don’t have to look up places that are driveable either, you can ask Google to show you how far it is to another country, or a planet, or anything else that it can provide you distances between.
See What Places are Nearby
Let’s say you want to see where the nearest car washes are or a certain type of restaurant.
Not a problem, just ask Ok Google to show you what businesses are nearby or in the general area.
Look up Interesting Facts
Being plugged into Google is extremely convenient when it comes to looking up all sorts of interesting facts.
Just ask Ok Google what you need to know and chances are you’ll get a quick answer. You can ask all sorts of things such as what time it is in another country, where your favorite celebrity was born, how long it would take to travel to Mars, and so on.
If you want to translate something, you can ask Google to provide you with it.
Google can translate dozens of languages, so whether you’re looking for a phrase to say in French, Chinese, or Swahili, Google can probably show you how to say it.
Check the Weather
If you want to know what the weather is going to be like in your location, or any other location, then simply ask Ok Google to show you what the weather is or what it will be like on such-and-such a day.
You’re not simply limited to checking the weather locally though, if you’re traveling and want to know what the weather is like at your destination, then you can quickly find out.
Finally, you don’t have to explicitly ask for the weather forecast. You can ask something like “Will I need an umbrella tomorrow?” and Ok Google will let you know if it is going to be sunny or if it will rain.
Perform Image Searches
If you want to look up images, then you can use the full resources of a Google Image search.
Just ask Ok Google to show you images for your search term. In this example, we asked Google to look up images for “geeks.”
Perform Conversions and Calculations
Use Google to perform quick conversions and calculations.
You can even use it to convert currency, and since you’re plugged into Google, you know you’ll get up-to-the-minute results.
You can also do calculations, such as multiplication, division, square roots, or ask Ok Google how much of a tip to leave your server.
Want to be reminded about something but don’t want to create an event? Just ask Ok Google to set a reminder for something you need to remember.
If you just want to add something to your to-do list, then you can say “remind me to do [this or that]” but if you want to create a more detailed reminder, then you can add a date and time.
Check Your Stocks
If you have stocks or you just like to follow a company’s progress, then you can ask Ok Google to show you how they’re doing.
Simply ask Ok Google to “Show me how Apple’s stock did today” and it will present it to you in a convenient, easy-to-read result.
Change Settings and Control Your Device
You can use Ok Google to control your device and change settings, here we ask it to turn on the flashlight.
Obviously, you can affect all kinds of settings as well, such as Wi-Fi, which is especially convenient if your mobile connection is unreliable or vice-versa.
You can try this out with all your settings to make it a lot more easier to use your phone or tablet to make quick adjustments. Want to take a picture or shoot a quick video? Ask Ok Google to “take a picture” or “shoot a video” and that’s it.
Notes are different from things like reminders in that you can have Ok Google retain bits of information you want to remember. Notes are meant to be more long lasting.
If you have more than one note-taking app, then you’ll be prompted for which one you want to use. In the previous screenshot, we’re using Google Keep.
There’re a quite a few other things you can do with Ok Google, some of which include:
- Track packages provided you have the tracking information in an email message.
- Show you which bills are due.
- Display your flight info (it needs to be in an email message).
- Ask for sport scores and team schedules.
- Play and control music from Google Play Music.
- Ask where and what movies are playing.
As you can see, Ok Google is similarly useful to Siri in many ways and quite versatile to boot. Additionally, because it is plugged into Google, you can search for anything.
Overall, Ok Google has come a long way from when it was simply a convenient way to map routes and search for stuff. As time goes on, it’s gaining more and more skills that are giving the likes of Siri a run for its money. That said, unlike Siri, Ok Google isn’t yet widely available across all of Google’s devices such as the Chromecast (Siri is available on both the new Apple TV as well as the Apple Watch).