There are a lot of new features introduced with the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean OS but none have been more talked about than the somewhat controversial Google Now feature. While the continuous location tracking and other personal information requirements have the “tin-foil hat” people running for the hills, no one can deny that Google’s “more than just another” virtual assistant can be incredibly helpful, as long as privacy isn’t your biggest concern, of course. Google Now also comes along with the much improved Voice Search, which you can check out in action here. You can also check out our guide on how to get the most out of the Google Now app.
The only problem is that Google Now is a Jelly Bean exclusive feature – you need to have a device running the latest iteration of Android to be able to use this app. Considering the fact that only 10% of the Android devices are currently running Ice Cream Sandwich, I’m far from optimistic about a speedy rollout of an official update to Android 4.1. On the other hand, OEMs could have learned their lesson from the slow ICS rollout and surprise us this time around.
Until then, the only way to have an Android 4.1 device is to buy a Google Nexus 7, or if you already own a Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Nexus S or Motorola Xoom (the first devices confirmed to receive the official update in mid-July).
As has been the case in the past, we’ve had to turn to third-party developers for help. And as usual, they’ve stepped up to the plate and provided a workaround to the Google Now ‘problem’. XDA Recognized Developer febycv has released a hacked version of the Google Now APK. Granted, there are a few limitations, which isn’t too bad considering Jelly Bean was announced less than a week ago. Some of these are:
- You need a rooted device running any ICS AOSP-based ROMs such as CyanogenMod and AOKP.
- Unfortunately, this version of the app does not support the highly-anticipated Voice Search function yet, but I’m sure the developers are working hard to fix that issue as well.
- Only language support so far is U.S.-English, so this app won’t be much use for non-English speakers.
Of course, this isn’t a simple app installation like most of us are used to, but if you’re willing to go the extra mile to use one of Jelly Bean’s best features, you can find download and installation instructions here. If you face any compatibility or stability issues after installation, you can find a developer-recommended workaround, along with an alternate APK as well, here.
What are your thoughts? How awesome is it that developers have the Google Now feature already available for us? If you are looking to install this app, or have done so already, share your experience in the comments section below.