One of the featured points of the Nexus 5 and Kit Kat is the “Ok Google” voice control.  The idea is that if the phone is on, on either the lock or home screen, that it is always listening.  If it hears the code phrase “Ok Google” then it will allow you voice control of the phone.  The key is that it does not require you to touch the device to start it listening.

Unfortunately it seems that it does not quite live up to its promise.  On getting my Nexus 5 I tried talking to it and nothing happened.  I tried it on different screens, I tried it with a headset, I tried rebooting and still it ignored my “OK Google”.  After some playing around with the setting I realised this is another case of Google being American-centric.  As I and my device are in the UK the language is set to English – United Kingdom.  This feature turns out to work only with English – United States settings.

It is possible to change the default language and the feature then starts to work, but the disadvantage is getting American spellings, Maps searches thinking you are in the US and a noticeable decrease in accuracy.  If you choose to do so go to Settings, Language and Input, Voice search and change the language to US.  Back out then go back into Voice Search and put a tick next to Hotword Detection.

Really Google – how hard would it have been to add this functionality for other dialects?  Make us download an extra language pack if you need to but let it work. The accessibility possibilities for the severely disabled are obvious on the feature and there is no need to restrict it to the US.

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