Android tip: Say the magic "hotwords" to control your phone with your voiceIt just got a little easier to ask your Android phone to search the web, name a tune, open an app, get directions, and more—all with the power of speech.

Thanks to an updated version of Google Now, a speech-friendly digital assistant that’s packaged in the Google Search app, you can start barking voice commands at your phone with a minimum of taps.

The secret? Saying the magic word—or words, actually.

Just launch the Google Search app (either by opening it from the Applications launcher, a home-screen shortcut, or by tapping the Google search box), and then say:

OK, Google

Once you do, Google Now will start listening for voice commands—anything from “what’s this song?” and “scan a barcode” to “send an email” or “note to self.”

Go ahead, try one—and you can check out more examples of Google Now voice commands (or voice “actions,” as Google calls them) right here.

Don’t want Google Now to be always listening for hotwords? No problem…

  • Launch Google Now, scroll all the way down, tap the three-dot menu button in the bottom-right corner of the screen, then tap Settings.
  • Tap Voice, then uncheck the box next to “Hotword detection.”

Bonus tip

Got an Android phone running on Android version 4.4, a.k.a. “KitKat”? If so, you can say “OK Google” just about anytime you want, not just when Google Now is up and running. Want to disable the feature? Here’s how.

Looking for more Android tips? Click here!