Android: Google Now is one of the coolest features of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, but if you’re running an Ice Cream Sandwich ROM, you can get it on your device with just a few small tweaks.
We’ve already noted that Google Now won’t work in Australia yet, in large part because the Knowledge Graph technology which underpins it isn’t yet widely available. Some Australians have reported seeing Knowledge Graph in their results, and you can force it on the desktop by changing your language to US English. That doesn’t guarantee it will work as well on a mobile device (since other factors come into play), but if you’re happy playing around with your installed ROMs you can always give it a shot.
This only works on AOSP Ice Cream Sandwich ROMs, so you won’t be able to get it if you’re running, say, an HTC Sense Ice Cream Sandwich ROM — you’ll need something like CyanogenMod 9. To get it working, download the APK and perform the following steps:
- Open Root Explorer or another root-enabled file explorer and go to
- Tap the “Mount R/W” button, then scroll down to
build.propand press and hold on it. Tap “Open in Text Editor”.
- Find the line that says
ro.build.version.sdk=15and change it to read
ro.build.version.sdk=16. Press the menu button and tap “Save and Exit”.
- Go to
GoogleQuickSearchBox.apk. Rename it to
GoogleQuickSearchBox.apk1. If that file doesn’t exist (it didn’t for me), just skip this step.
- Reboot your phone and install the Google Now APK, once again available here.
- Go back and edit
build.propas described in step two, and change the
ro.build.version.sdkline back to
Not everything works perfectly (voice search is completely broken, for example), but it’s still much better than the current Google search app. You’ll get the advanced Knowledge Graph-based search, as well as smart cards for things like weather, nearby restaurants, and more. Note that every phone is different, so your experience may vary — hit the link below if you’re curious and see what happens.