I recently purchased a 2013 Nexus 7 with LTE, and when it arrived, I was puzzled to see that Google Now was not working. Google Now is actually provided by the Google Search app, but when I would swipe up from the home button, I would get just the search part of the app. No cards were present, and none of the normal options about sample cards, etc., were there. The standard Google Now widget was there, but adding it to the home screen just showed one line of text: “Google Now is not available.” I ordered the device from the US and had it shipped to me in Iceland (through a third party of course – Google certainly doesn’t ship here), so this seemed like the likely culprit. Google Now has always worked fine on my Nexus 4, Nexus 10, and 2012 Nexus 7, so it’s unclear why that changed suddenly, but this is a very familiar problem to any Google user who doesn’t live on the actual corporate headquarters in Mountain View where all their services work. My attempts at the normal solutions (connect to a VPN, clear the app data, restart) didn’t work, and all of my web searches turned up the same solution – set the device language to US English and it should work. Alas, it didn’t. My device was already set to US English, and toggling back and forth to and from other languages did nothing.
Just on a side note, Google really needs to do something about their approach to dealing with the rest of the world. My advice to Google would be to take your fingers out of your ears and stop shouting “LALALACANTHEARYOULALA”, but I’m open to other suggestions as well.
Anyway, what finally worked was to go into the Settings -> Apps menu, select the Google Search app, and then hitting the “Uninstall Updates” button. This briefly warns you that you’re about to reset the app to its factory defaults, but as soon as I did that, it worked perfectly. The Play Store then showed that an update was available to the app, but it failed with a 927 error. I had to go clear the cache and app data for the Play Store app before the update would install. Installing the update didn’t break it again though, and it seems that everything is working OK now.