Google App--Confused by settings for Voice Searches--Hands Free Only and All Voice Searches

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Android Central Question

First for clarity, I'm talking about the Google App for Android and not Chrome. In appearance, this app looks like a web search bar, but in actuality, it basically functions like Google Assistant, as far as I can tell. (And that alone is confusing enough.)

I can tap the mic and say "navigate to Fort Knox" or "call my mother" or "text Santa Claus." I can also say, "send a text" and it will offer the SPOKEN response: "Who do you want to text?" And so on. It will even read the text aloud before sending it. Great! I love this and use it.

But... I HATE HATE HATE IT when it reads the result of a web search. HEY GOOGLE, I CAN READ, but not when you are blathering on and on.

So, I begin the quest to turn this annoying feature off. After a lot of tinkering and reading, I'm here to confirm that this is not possible without unwanted consequences (hoping to be proven wrong). Read on...

In the Google App for Android (not Chrome), you can choose 1 of 2 settings for SPOKEN RESULTS:

1. All voice searches
2. Hands free searches only

If you choose "All voice searches" then everything is read aloud by Google. Web searches are read aloud (which i hate) and requests to call or text someone, etc., use speech to interact with you (which I love).

If you choose, "hands free searches only," NOTHING is read aloud by Google, INCLUDING, for example, "OK Google... send a text." It will respond only on screen with the printed phrase: "Who do you want to text." But here's the thing, "Send a text" is not a search. So what does "SEARCH" even mean in the above options. Shouldn't option 2 be, "Google won't talk to you, AT ALL."

The only thing I can figure is that I don't know what "hands free" means. I searched my phone settings (Galaxy S9) and all it had was "one-handed mode."

The careful choice of words and industry nomenclature seems to be more and more of a lost art. The internet is full of people chasing their tails over trying to get Google to SHUT THE EF UP.

As I understand, Google gives you 2 choices for using it's AI voice:
1. On
2. Off

Further, the Google App is really Google Assistant.

If true, why not just say so, Google?

What am I missing?


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Dec 6, 2011
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The search bar was called Google Now. The assistant is/was called Google Assistant. The browser is Google Chrome. Assistant and Now always worked virtually the same and in many cases were considered interchangeable. The difference was you could input text into Now and Assistant only accepted verbal input. Google in its infinite wisdom has streamlined many of its apps and app settings and did away with Now and it is simply all Google Assistant, now. At the moment. Presently. Yeah confusing but it's one less product users have to know. If you search Google Now on the Play Store it takes you to Google Assistant.

I believe mustang7757 is correct that hands free refers to input through another device, like Bluetooth headsets and car radios, while requests made verbally or otherwise directly to the device, in hand or not, fall into the category of search requests in this case.

You can stop Google from reading the results by saying, OK Google, Stop. However as you found and pointed out it is an all or nothing on the voice responses. If memory serves there was a 3 tier setting at one time. It was something like, Everything, Minimal and Nothing. Probably got swallowed up in the streamlining or they found the majority were either Everything or Nothing.


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Sep 15, 2020
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VidJunky, Thank you for the excellent history and clarification. Sometimes, knowing is the most important thing and now I know that what I seek is not possible. I can move on. I'll just put the Chrome next to Google Formerly Now. If I want to search using speech, I'll use the Chrome app. It requires a tap or 2 but better that than the alternative. Thanks again!

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