What is Google Voice Search?

Technology Aug 10, 2021

Have you ever wished that you could speak to your smartphone or tablet like you can to Apple's Siri or to Amazon’s Alexa? Well, as always Google has the answer to this question for you. It comes in the form of "Hey Google". This feature is built into most software that uses Google applications making it an incredibly useful piece of technology.

How to turn it on?

1. Open the Google application on your Android cell-phone or tablet.

2. At the bottom of your screen on the righthand side. Tap the ... This will take you to a drop-down menu, click on settings and then click on voice.

3. Under the “Hey Google” function, click on voice match and follow the prompted instructions.

4. Remember to turn on “Hey Google” function. If the function is not working properly for you. Go back to settings and try tapping the retrain voice function.

How to start a voice search:

Once it is all set up you can now start your searching. Just remember to tap the microphone function and ask your question. You can now as it anything. For example:

  • How old is (name)?
  • Who invented (object or concept)?
  • Will it rain later?
  • Go to (name of website)
  • Show me Hairdressers in my area.

What uses does it have for ESL Students?

Language practice:

Tap on the microphone icon in Google and say “pronounce" and the word you would like to pronounce. The function will then give a phonetic transcription of the word. You can also ask this function for definitions or to describe objects or words to you. This function will also read the definitions aloud. This is useful if you are looking for vocabulary and collocation surrounding the word you defined. It will also show you what part of speech the word is.

You can ask:

Define (word).

Pronounce (word).

Synonyms for (word).

Collocations for (word).


Tap the microphone icon on Google and say the location you would like to find. You can also ask it to find certain services near you.

You can ask:

Find English schools near me?

Find my AirBnB.

Where is (particular landmark)?

When does (name of business or landmark) close?

Distance from here to (name of location)?


This is very useful if you are travelling, as small talk about the weather is another excellent way to practice conversational skills and make friends or introductions to people travelling around you.

You can ask:

What is the weather like in (Location)?

What is the maximum temperature for today?

When does the sun set?

Okay Google and other compatible applications: 

There are a variety of other applications that are compatible with Okay Google. For example you can ask the application, what new shows there are on Netflix or to play a particular video on YouTube.

You can also ask:

Send an email to (name of contact: and dictate the email from there).

Call (say name of contact).

Send a Whatsapp message to (name of contact).

Post (your message) on Facebook.

Set an alarm for (include the time). Or set a timer for (amount of time).


These voice activated commands are a lot of fun to play with and are very useful if you want to know something quickly, as you don’t have to type in a question and wait for a response. The uses of this application that are mentioned in this article are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of uses for this service. So, I would recommend that the user play around an see what other capabilities they can think of for this application.

Happy Searching   

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