I can't help but miss Google Now on the HTC One X

Taylor Martin
 from  Concord, NC
| Published: August 13, 2012

If you've been following my weekly Official Smartphone Rankings™ each week, you've likely discovered that I absolutely love the HTC One X. It has been my #1 choice since it launched back in May, and not even the Samsung Galaxy S III has been enough to sway me in any other direction. It is my top choice in phone, and it's there to stay for the foreseeable future.

From the inside out, I love what HTC has done with the One series; they dug deep to get back to their roots and focus more on what matters, quality over quantity, performance and durability.

Granted, there are some aspects of each One device that could definitely be improved upon (like the cameras, for instance). I explained back in June that there is no perfect 10 consumer device … and there may never be one, for all we know. In my opinion, however, the HTC One X is the closest thing to perfect for me and my needs. I prefer its S-LCD2 720p display over the HD Super AMOLED on the Galaxy S III. I prefer the unibody design over a cheap, lightweight and flimsy plastic chassis. And I can live with Sense UI, whereas TouchWiz has always been one of my least favorite Android customizations.

While I could definitely go for some more storage space and battery life at times, I thoroughly enjoy the One X and have been, for the most part, content with it since day one. (I say "for the most part" because the first unit I received had a dud battery. Ever since replacing it, I have been thoroughly happy with it and its battery life.)

That said, last month, I asked whether software or hardware is more important. I explained that I have had a terrible time choosing between the Galaxy Nexus with Jelly Bean and the One X with Ice Cream Sandwich, Sense-flavored. The consensus I came to back then was that software ultimately won. While I would much rather choose the hardware on the One X, I found myself erring on the side of the Nexus due to its stock Android 4.1 software.

When I started the Voice Input Challenge, though, I chose to carry three handsets: an iPhone 4S, One X and a Galaxy Nexus. I typically only carry two phones with me every day. But I wanted to actively try the two different Android phones since there were some pretty significant changes in dictation software between Android 4.0 and 4.1. After the challenge, I kept my primary AT&T SIM in the One X and started leaving the Galaxy Nexus at home when I set out for the day. (There is simply no need for a third line. A second line is excessive, I will admit. But a third? That's above and beyond, and it's not even convenient.)

Almost immediately, I started to miss one feature of the Galaxy Nexus and Jelly Bean: Google Now.

To be fair, the One X has voice search, which I have been using quite often. But that's not the problem. The problem is that it's not as easily accessible from anywhere within the operating system (a la slide gesture up from the home button), and it's not as feature-packed as the automated personal assistant service dubbed Google Now.

To quickly access Google Now on the Galaxy Nexus or Nexus 7, you simply slide your finger up from the home button. Google Now appears and immediately gives you any pertinent information based on time, location, any of your upcoming appointments and the other various things it has learned about you. I don't get that on my One X. I don't get automatic traffic reports for my commute home every day. I don't get weather updates each time I go for a Google search. And I don't get results nearly as fast or in such a consumable, easy-to-understand (card) format.

It may seem like a petty complaint. But I seriously miss Google Now when I'm using my One X. I have become attached to how quick and painless Google Now and the Google voice search in Android 4.1 are. Over the weekend, Evan asked, "If you had to choose, would you pick Google Now or Siri?" The fact that I'm consistently switching back to an older phone to continue using Google Now while I have had Siri at my side all along and haven't cared to use it is a pretty clear testament to where I stand. And it should serve well as a testament to the power of Google Now.

To be clear, I could hack and mod my One X to retrofit it with Google Now. But that's neither the point or something I'm willing to do at this time. The point is: I have one of the newest Android smartphones available and there will likely be another four or so months before the One X (or any other high-end Android phone, for that matter) officially receives the Jelly Bean update. And thus, it will be the same amount of time before I have Google Now officially on my One X. That's a shame considering the usefulness and potential of Google Now.

I'm not sure what I will end up doing in the end, but I still find myself trying to balance the two devices on a single line. Carrying three devices every day is not the answer and neither is switching back and forth every couple days. But I'm having trouble coping without Google Now. And likewise, I'm having trouble settling with the hardware of the Galaxy Nexus.

Google Now may not be one of my favorite Android features … yet. But the power of voice input is definitely one that is continually growing in importance, and Google Now is undoubtedly one of the more impressive context aware voice search utilities to surface of late.

Tell me, ladies and gentlemen. Is voice search all that important to you? Do you find yourself growing attached to Google's voice search? Siri? Google Now? Do you miss your voice search of choice when it's unavailable? Have you changed phones (or respective software) just to get a taste of the latest voice input tech?

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