Controlling a smartphone with your voice can be very useful when you’re out and about or have your hands full. If your headphones have a built-in microphone, as many do these days, then you can use Google Assistant to set up appointments, send texts, call friends, or a range of other tasks without having to take your phone out of your pocket.
We show you what you need to do to use Google Assistant with headphones.
Requirements for Google Assistant to work with headphones
Google states that the following criteria must be met if you want Assistant to play nice with your headphones;
Your device must have:
- Android 6 or higher
- Google App version 7 or higher
- Latest version of Google Play services
- 1.5GB of RAM
- 720p screen resolution
- An internet connection
- The phone language set to a supported one (check Google’s official list)
Google also says your headphones must be optimised for Assistant. You can try your existing one, but if you find it doesn't work, here are a couple of options that you can buy instead:
Setting up your headphones
Depending on the type of headphones you have, wired or wireless, you’ll need to take a different route. Wired headphones should immediately work with Assistant so, provided you’ve set up the app previously, saying ‘OK Google’ will open the Assistant ready for your commands.
Bluetooth headphones obviously need to be paired with phone. If you haven't already done this, ensure the headphones are turned on, your phone is connected to the internet, and that Bluetooth is enabled on your phone. The latter involves swiping down from the top of the screen and tapping the Bluetooth icon.
Next, open the Settings app on your device and tap on Connected devices. On the next page tap Pair new device, then when your headphones appear in the Available devices section, tap on them to complete the pairing process.
You may need to put your headphones into pairing mode for this to work, so check the instructions that came with them to see how this is done.
Next, tap the button on your headset (again following the instructions that came with them) to start a conversation with Google Assistant. If this doesn’t work then you can go to Settings > Google > Search, Assistant & Voice > Voice then enable Voice search on Bluetooth devices.
For good measure you can also tap the Voice Match option and enable Access with Voice Match and Unlock with Voice Match.
Now, hopefully, when you press the talk button on your headphones you should hear the Google Assistant tone and be able to use your normal voice commands
How to use Google Assistant with headphones on iPhone
For iPhone users, Google states that the following things are needed:
- iPhone 5 or newer running at least iOS 9.3
- Google Assistant app
- An active internet connection
Again, headphones optimised for the Assistant, but this time, the advice should be followed.
Setting for iPhone
If you have a wired pair of headphones with a microphone, then you should be able to get up and running straight away. Things aren’t quite as straight forward on iOS as Android though, with the Google Assistant app needing to be opened for the commands to work.
You can add a Siri Shortcut by tapping the icon in the bottom right of the Assistant app and choosing Add “Ok Google” to Siri. This will allow Siri to open the Assistant on your behalf when you say a chosen phrase.
For Bluetooth headsets, the first thing to do is turn on your headphones, while ensuring your phone is connected to the internet. If they're not already paired, open Settings > Bluetooth and enable Bluetooth. Look for your headphones in the My Devices section, then tap on its name to connect to your iPhone.
You could be prompted to link your headphones to the Assistant, which can be done by tapping the Connect button followed by Pair when prompted. In truth we experienced some difficulty getting our particular headset to work consistently with Google Assistant, which we think is down to the way Apple safeguards and controls parts of iOS, especially with its own assistant Siri being such an integral part of the operating system
If you have better luck, then you’ll be able to open the Google Assistant app, tap the microphone icon, and make your requests.