One of the cooler features in Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is Google’s new search interface, Siri competitor, and product all its own, Google Now. This new interface for Google combines all the information that they have about you into what they hope are helpful “cards” that appear based on where you are or what time it is. I’ve been using Google Now since Google I/O and I do have to say that it is quite impressive. However, the feature is normally restricted to only Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, which means that many users can’t access these cool features.
Fortunately, as usual, those over at the xda-developers forum have come up with a way to bring Google Now’s features to more users, even if only the few with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. There are a few methods methods which require you to do a bit of work, but as long as you can follow the instructions then you should be fine.
Basically, the procedure is this: First, you need to backup your current Google Search app by renaming the GoogleQuickSearchBox.apk or moving it somewhere safe. Then, you can download a replacement .apk and install it normally. If that doesn’t work, then you can rename it to GoogleQuickSearchBox.apk, and place it in the /system/app folder to manually install it. Also, there is a .zip that you can try installing through recovery if the other methods won’t work.
Jelly Bean’s new on-device voice search hasn’t yet been ported to Ice Cream Sandwich, but there is a work around that you can install in order to use Android 4.0’s voice recognition to send the proper text to Google Now. All you have to do is install the “Voice Search for Google Now” app which can be found in the Android market or through the xda source link below. It isn’t the best solution, as you need specific shortcuts and widgets to use it, but it is certainly better than nothing.
Google Now is, in my opinion, one of the best features of Jelly Bean. Sure, it does get a little creepy how much it knows about you, but the features are pretty amazing. Google Now already tells me how long it will take to get home at the end of the day (and provides a nice map), shows directions to restaurants that I have been looking up on my computer, and even shows live updates to Atlanta Braves games. This hack is only for Android 4.0 for now, so those with Gingerbread will unfortunately have to either wait to get their update or hope a developer ports Google Now to Android 2.3. And even if that doesn’t happen, there’s always the chance that CyanogenMod 10 will work. However, if you are one of the lucky ones with Ice Cream Sandwich, I highly suggest that you follow the source link and try out Google Now for yourself right now.