How Do I Activate Okay Google?

March 29, 2018 • Shannon Flynn


The “Okay Google” prompt has become so solidified in pop culture that Burger King even used it in a Whopper commercial in 2017, although Google was not pleased. If you haven’t tried the feature that goes along with those words, you might be wondering, “How do I activate Okay Google?” It’s not difficult, and you can get set up in minutes.

1. Grab Your Android or iOS Phone

Perhaps you’ve performed a search query for “How do I activate Okay Google?” and noticed that most of the results relate to Android phones. That’s because the feature works natively on them. However, last year, iOS users got the chance to try it, too.

We’ll focus on how to set things up on an Android phone since Google’s feature is part of the operating system. However, to save yourself the trouble of asking an iPhone owner “How do I activate Okay Google, too?” just keep in mind that the first step of using the feature on an iPhone is downloading the app.

Next, launch it and log into your Google account. Then, tap the microphone icon to start talking to Google. It’s useful to realize that the official name of the feature is Google Assistant, so search for that term when looking for it in the App Store.

2. Launch the Google Assistant on Android

With your Android phone in hand, make sure your device is new enough to have the Google Assistant as part of the operating system. The good news is that a December 2017 update brought the functionality to Android phones running 5.0 and up, which means it works on the majority of them.

Begin by long-pressing the Home button. That action brings up the Google Assistant welcome screen. Touch the blue Continue button in the bottom right, then the Yes, I’m In button on the screen that requests phone permissions.

In some cases, those two steps are all that’s needed to set up the service. However, the system might also need to configure the system to recognize your voice. If it does, you only need to say “Okay Google” three times.

3. Learn How to Turn the Feature Off

After getting things set up, it’s a good idea to understand how to disable the Okay Google setting, too. The Google Assistant usually stays quiet until you need it, but there may be times when you’re in a meeting or otherwise want to make sure nothing triggers it to start talking.

Launch the Google Assistant by long-pressing your phone’s Home button. Then, tap the blue button on the top-right side that looks like a file drawer. From there, choose More and Settings. Look for the Devices section and select your phone from that area. Tap the Turn on Google Assistant link. You can then decide to Turn “OK Google” Detection on or off.

If you’re using an older operating system, select the settings section called “OK Google” Detection, then pick Say OK Google Anytime and turn it off.

4. Go Through Troubleshooting If Necessary

If the steps above don’t work for you, there are probably more extensive tweaks needed on your phone. Launch the Google app, then go to its Settings menu. Find the Voice area next, which is part of the Search section. From the list that appears, choose the language you speak, which ensures the Google Assistant understands you.

Try installing or updating the respective language pack, too. You can do that from the Voice menu by tapping Offline Speech Recognition.

5. Benefit From Okay Google’s Features

Now that everything’s up and running on your phone, you can start using Okay Google to make life more convenient. One of the most common reasons people use it is to do Google searches with their voices. However, it can perform over a million other actions by interacting with your smart home system or a third-party app. Recently, Google enabled sending or requesting money with the feature.

Just start all your commands with “Okay Google” to activate your device. Furthermore, having voice recognition set up on an Android facilitates speaking to compose an email or chat with a friend in Messenger. While using any app with a keyboard, you can tap the microphone button and talk instead of typing. That’s convenient if you’re driving or otherwise doing something when you can’t use your hands to type.

Okay Google takes only a couple of minutes to activate — and sometimes less if everything goes as expected. Once you do it, it won’t take long to see how talking saves time compared to typing.