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Get the most from Google Now with these tips and tricks

Derek Walter | March 8, 2016
Google’s digital assistant can do way more than quickly search the web, once you learn all of its hidden tools.

Bu you haven’t paid enough attention, you may have missed how much Google Now will  help you while you’re on your trip as well. You may have to be that person who is on their phone all the time at first, but pay attention to what Google Now suggests when you head to a mall, big box store, or restaurant.

The other thing to watch for is Google’s curation of places to visit when you’re in a city or directories for large spaces like malls and shopping centers. In practice I’ve found the utility of these to be rather mixed. It’s worth checking out if you’re going somewhere completely new and want a general lay of the land for what to do or if there’s a store you want to find in that mega-mall.

Now On Tap requires patience

The biggest upgrade promised with Android Marshmallow was Google Now On Tap. If you have a compatible device, you can touch and hold the home button and Google will search the contents of your screen and perform a rapid-fire Google search, with related news, social media profiles, or other content.

In practice it’s been a little underwhelming. I don’t use it all that much because I usually have something very specific in mind that I want to Google so I’d rather just perform another search myself after I’m done browsing at the current app. But it’s helped a couple of times when someone texted me about a restaurant to check out and I was able to fire up a map right away.

My recommendation for experimenting with Now on Tap is to try it out with news articles, conversations, or other places where you think you want to know more about what’s on the page. Sometimes Now on Tap will delight you, other times it will be a letdown. Machine learning still has a ways to go, so give this service some time to get better.

Music, movies, and shopping

Google Now has evolved to be a hub for all aspects of your consumer life. When you search for an actor or film you’ll now find the information nicely sorted into an easy-to-read graphic. Same goes for music, and don’t be surprised if you find a notification that an artist you’ve searched for in the past has a new album out.

One of the most useful additions I’ve come to like lately has to do with shopping. Google Now will occasionally ping you with lower prices about products you’ve searched for.

Yes, it’s a little creepy at first, but it’s saved me some cash. If you don’t want these anymore, you can dismiss it as evidenced by the notification you see in the screenshot. This may not be enough to cure your addiction to Amazon, but maybe start the search for your next purchase in Google search and see what happens.

 

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