Google Now voice commands are incredibly useful for setting reminders, making notes to yourself, getting the weather, or doing an online search. Yet Google has not added much in the way of hardware control via Google Now’s “OK Google” phrase.
To overcome this Google Now deficiency—at least until Google expands its capabilities—a new free app called Commandr is filling the gap. Built by Ryan Senanayake—the developer behind Open Mic+ for Google Now—Commandr uses Google Now’s “note to self” command as a workaround to get the job done with no device rooting required.
Once Commandr is installed and set-up, all you have to do is say “OK Google, note to self turn on flashlight.” A few seconds later, your camera’s flash will illuminate your path through the darkness—hardware permitting.
For developers, Google Now has no official third-party support with the exception of the “note to self” command. Thus Commandr’s workaround is the only way to use voice commands via Google Now without rooting your device or using hacks that Google could shut down at a moment’s notice.
First time Commandr
Before you can use Commandr, the app requires a little bit of set-up. To start you have to manually choose Commandr as the default “note to self” app. Then you have to reselect whatever your default app is for taking actual notes.
Finally, Commandr has a one-screen tutorial that teaches you how to use the app. To pass the tutorial you have to manually type in the phrase that will get Commandr to work for a given command such as, “Okay Google note to self pause music.”
Commandr currently has a limited set of built-in commands, but most people should find them useful:
- Turn On/Off Bluetooth
- Turn On/Off Flashlight
- Turn On/Off GPS
- Turn On/Off Wi-Fi
- Next Song
- Pause Music
- Previous Song
- Resume Music
In addition to its built-in commands, Commandr is also compatible with the popular automation app Tasker.
One unfortunate side effect of Commandr is that making a real note to self is a little clumsy, “Okay Google note to self note...” But that’s the price you pay for using a workaround.
Commandr also lets you toggle off any of the built-in commands you don’t want to use by opening the app and tapping Built-in Commands. This screen will also tell you whether some features aren’t working due to the hardware limitations of your device. My Nexus 4, for example, won’t work with Commandr’s GPS On/Off option.
Shortcomings aside, Commandr will be a very useful app for anyone who wants to control their phone’s basic hardware features, hands-free.
Commandr works with Android 4.1 and up.
[via Android Authority]