How To Change OK Google to Something Else
Microsoft has Cortana, Amazon has Alexa, and Google has…Google. Rather than come up with a human name for its assistant, Google went with the no-nonsense label of “Google Assistant”. Despite the lack of imagination that went into the product’s name, there’s no lack of functionality in the product itself. The Google Assistant is a purely software tool that offers a lot of features, such as the ability to launch programs on your computer or smartphone, to start TV shows or music playlists, even to dim the lights in your house or turn various appliances on and off. There really are any number of things you can get done with the Assistant, but one thing that it can’t do is make major changes its voice-activation command. Google will let you set it to “OK Google” or, on some later devices, “Hey Google” – but if you dream of emulating Captain Picard and barking out “Computer!” your dream can’t be fulfilled…or can it?
(Which is better, Google Assistant or Siri? Find out here!)
The truth is that Google could enable you to make your voice activation command anything you wish, but they don’t want to. For whatever reason – probably something to do with someone in marketing being on a little bit of a power trip – the company wants you to have to say its name before the Assistant will do anything for you. Fortunately, the very nature of Google’s software architecture is that it is hackable and modifiable, and so what Google has refused to do, third parties have eagerly done. By the use of additional software, you can change your Google Assistant voice activation phrase to be anything you want. In this article, I will show you the various methods of doing this, and walk you through each of them. By the time we’re done, Google Assistant will be dancing to your tune. (Want to see a list of (almost) every Google Assistant command?)
Changing Your Google Assistant Hotword
The first thing to do to enable these methods is to make sure that you have the latest version of the Google app installed on your smartphone. Once you have the latest and greatest version of Google installed, you can proceed.
Method 1 – Using the Open Mic+ App
Open Mic+ is an app that supplements the Google Assistant, adding a variety of features such as offline voice recognition and integration with Tasker, an extremely powerful Android automation system. (We have a good tutorial with information on some great Tasker profiles.) For our purposes to day, however, we’re most interested in the feature of Open Mic+ that lets you replace the voice command used to activate the Google Assistant.
For Open Mic+ to work, you have to disable the hotword detection in Google Now. This is easy to do, although Google has done its best to hide the required functionality deep inside its forbidding and quasi-random user interface hierarchy.
- Activate your Google Assistant by saying “OK Google” or long-pressing the Home button.
- Press the compass icon in the lower right hand part of the app to access the Explore menu.
- Tap your profile button on the top right part of the app and select Settings.
- Select the Assistant tab.
- Scroll down to the Assistant Devices section at the bottom and tap on your smartphone or other device you wish to configure.
- Toggle the “Access with Voice Match” setting to off.
Next, launch the Open Mic+ app. Open Mic+ is no longer available on the Google Play store, but it is still available on Amazon. (If you don’t already have the Amazon App Store app installed, you will need to install that first in order to get the Open Mic+ app.)
Open the Open Mic+ app, and you’ll see the beginning screen. Tap on the preferences sliders to open the settings dialog.
Once into the preferences screen, tap on “Hot Phrase”, and then type in the phrase you want to use going forward. (You might want to resist the temptation to get too cute with this; making your phrase something like “Hey Baby, Did I Turn You On?” is funny when you’re at home alone, but maybe less funny when your boss asks you to look something up on your phone at work.) For our demonstration, we’ll go with Captain Picard and change the activation phrase to “Computer”.
When you’re done typing the phrase, just tap on the “OK” button. Hit the return button in the upper left corner to exit preferences.
You should now see a big green button labeled “Start”. Tap that and leave it running, and you can say your chosen hotword instead of “OK Google” and your Google Assistant will be right there, ready to take your voice command.
Method 2 – Using the Tasker App
Open Mic+ works…most of the time. Unfortunately the app is not in active development at this time, and it’s possible that it won’t install or won’t run properly on your phone. A more reliable method of changing your Assistant hotword is to download and install the very popular Tasker app. Tasker isn’t free; it’s $2.99, but honestly, it’s the best $2.99 you will ever spend if you use your phone a lot. As the name suggests, Tasker handles all kinds of tasks, and when loaded with the right plugins, it can let you change your Google Assistant hotword. Once you’ve got Tasker, you will also need to install the AutoVoice app from the same developer; this download is free but AutoVoice is ad-supported.
First, you need to go to your “Settings” and then choose “Accessibility”. In the list of options, find “AutoVoice Google Now Integration” and “Tasker” and toggle the switches next to those entries to enable the functionality.
You need to link your AutoVoice app to your Google account. Fortunately, the Google Assistant can do this for you.
- Activate the Google Assistant.
- Say “Talk to AutoVoice”.
- The Assistant will tell you that your account is not linked, and will ask for permission to link the accounts. Tap “Yes”.
- If you have more than one Google account, a selection dialog will come up asking you which account to link; choose the account you use on this phone.
- The Google Assistant will complete linking AutoVoice to your account.
Open the Tasker app, tap on the plus sign, and then add “Event”. From the list of options, select “Plugin” and then choose “AutoVoice” and “Recognized”. Click the edit button next to “Configuration” and then tap “The Hard Way”. Tap “Speak Filter”. You’ll be prompted to speak your new command phrase. Tasker may ask you to clarify what you said by presenting a list of its best guesses; select the one that you actually said.
A dialog will come up allowing you to name the task; you can skip this if you wish. You really only need to name tasks if there are large number of tasks in a workflow and you might get them mixed up. Type in a name (or not) and tap the checkmark to the right of the name field.
Tap the “Play” button to run your task, and you should now have a voice command that opens the Google Assistant.
(Many thinks to TechJunkie reader Brandon Bjorke who helpfully noticed that we had glitched out an entire section of the walkthrough – and our apologies to anyone who tried to get this to work with only about a third of the instructions in place!)
Google Assistant is a powerful tool, and it’s a shame that Google won’t just let people set their own command phrases. However, since for the time being at least they won’t, it’s up to us to hack our devices to make them work the way we want them to work.
(Would you like to just be rid of the Google Assistant altogether? You can do that with our tutorial on turning the Google Assistant off.)
Do you have any other suggestions for ways to change the command phrase for the Google Assistant? Let us know about them in the comments if you do!