03
Apr
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You know what we just can't get enough of? Google Now cards. Today, the data giant updated its search app with a new real-time package tracking card (as opposed to the static "Your order has shipped" option before). In addition, regular old search results should be faster, which users on older devices are likely to love.

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As a bonus, the app now provides quicker access to feedback and settings on the cards themselves. All in all, this is a fairly small update, but the bump from the nice but mostly useless package tracking card from before to proper real-time tracking is a great benefit. The update is live on the Play Store now, or you can grab it from the widget below.

Eric Ravenscraft
Eric is a snarky technophile with a taste for the unusual. When he's not obsessing about Android, you can usually find him obsessing about movies, psychology, or the perfect energy drink. Eric weaves his own special blend of snark, satire, and comedy into all his articles.

  • Joel Anderson

    Any chance we'll see an APK teardown to see if there's a big new update coming?

    • Jason Banich

      You know they're working on it, haha

    • Greek_Ice

      I hope so too. The hidden code is sometimes more interesting than the app update on the surface.

  • Aki I.

    Did they fix the note2 menu bug that rendered the menu unusable?... After over 2 months?

    • http://profiles.google.com/hrivner Harold Rivner

      Yes

      • Layman76

        Confirmed

  • Ziad Kalach

    And now reply to questions like "how old is ..." in French !
    I think it's new.

    Even asking "Note" (same word in French) works.

    • tomcat84

      Yeah, now there are some voice replies to questions in German, too!
      It's still nothing compared to the english version, but it's a start...

      • http://www.facebook.com/itaregarrute Itaré Victor Galvêas Garrute

        brazilian portuguese too!

      • http://twitter.com/GcmPego Giacomo Pegorer

        also in Italy!

  • JordanKZ

    There's a boat load of UI improvements. This is actually a really significant update.

    • akshay7394

      UI improvements like what?

      • JLishere

        There are improvements to the individual card settings and the app settings. Also, the weather, stock quote, flight status and unit conversion cards are now interactive. Check these side-by-side comparisons:

        https://plus.google.com/100130762972482716067/posts/P8CASZGQDp1?hl=en

        • akshay7394

          Just noticed these after posting my comment actually :) The sports cards were interactive too just before the update, when I searched for the clubs I liked yesterday I'd noticed the screens were drastically different, so was hoping for an update :D

  • vineet

    new setting type button on right top corner of cards

  • Hilman in Edmonton

    Nice update, I especially like the ability to pick the mode of transportation for the commute to home or work. Nice to see the choice between driving, public transportation, walking or biking.

  • mesmorino

    Package tracking only works in the States. You'd think they could conference call Amazon.co.uk and Royal mail, maybe work something out. Maybe even get Parcel force in in the deal while we're at it

    • imtoomuch

      You guys have cooler cars and better (world) phones. I'll trade you.

    • Freak4Dell

      I don't really see why they have to work something out with anyone. GMail has recognized tracking numbers for a long time now, since the major shipping companies have a particular format they use for their numbers. I know this, because if I'm reading an email that has a tracking number in it from a supported company, there's a an option to the right to track the package. This links you to the shipping company's website, but I would have thought that Google could just use this technology, pull the data on their servers, and put that information on a card. That would make it work with any shipment as long as the carrier was supported, rather than only working with a few retailers.

      • SK

        The carriers would probably ask Google to stop scraping their servers. For example, UPS sent take down notice to small time devs (I think the app was called Package Tracker) who scraped their website. And if someone like Google starts scraping their website for all the emails with tracking info sent to gmail, the carrier servers will probably buckle under the load. This needs more of a push notification mechanism from the carriers to Google servers -- otherwise, it's not going to scale well.

        • Freak4Dell

          Very true. Sounds like they should be working with the carriers instead of the retailers.

        • Simon Belmont

          I used to just Google my tracking numbers and it'd take me right to the appropriate website with the tracking information I needed. That doesn't seem to work anymore, though. :(

          I'm guessing the reason is exactly what you stated. The shipping website's got sick of Google scraping their information, but damn was it useful. :)

      • mesmorino

        They need to work something out with someone, because Gmail has NEVER recognised ANY tracking numbers I have EVER gotten. I get delivery confirmation emails all the damn time, from game.co.uk, amazon.co.uk, and miscellaneous other online retailers, and they use a number of delivery companies, from good old Royal Mail, to Parcelforce, to Citylinks or whatever they're called.

        Also, you see the part where you say "If i'm reading an email that has a tracking number in it from a supported company..."? Well how exactly would a company get supported, without something being worked out between Google and said company?

        • Freak4Dell

          Well, by supported company, I meant supported shipping company. For example, UPS tracking numbers start with a 1Z. So, if GMail sees a 1Z number that has a certain number of digits in the email, it knows it's a tracking number and puts a little link to the side leading you to the tracking page for that package. It seems to work with FedEx packages, too, but not USPS. I don't think it's dependent on the retailer, because I see it work with small obscure retailers, too, but now I'm wondering if maybe there's some easy way to sign up to be a partnered retailer or something. Maybe there's more to it than just simply recognizing the tracking number formula.

          • mesmorino

            I just re-read my comment, and it seems to come off a little belligerent.. I just wanted to clarify that it's not towards you, it's towards google.

            And yeah I agree, it's the delivery/shipping companies they need to sort something out with. Royal Mail's tracking numbers are in a format that is always immediately recognisable, but Gmail treats them like any other kind of email. Working something out with the retailer might help in the form of "If an email originates from then check it for tracking numbers". Or even just ask them what delivery service they use, I mean amazon.co.uk defaults to royal mail, unless it's a private seller or a large package like a tv (in which case they use some other outfit).

            The thing is, it's not the shipping companies that send you emails... It's the retailer you've bought something from, and it's also the retailer that tells you when they've dispatched your stuff. The retailer's emails are where you find your tracking number, and then you go to the respective shipping company's website, and enter it there to see location, status, etc.

            That's why all three parties need to work something out, at least for the UK, since it seems like it's working (and has always worked) in the US

          • Freak4Dell

            Haha, I didn't see anything offensive in your post.

            The reason I think they'd be better off working with the carriers is because there's only a small number of them. There's an infinite number of retailers, so working with the carriers would have them cover 99% of the retailers without having to go out and talk to all of them. Sure, the retailers formulating their emails in a certain way could help make it more accurate, but the chances of somebody sending a number in tracking number format in an email that has nothing to do with a tracking number is already low, and Google could use other context clues in the email to determine whether it's a real tracking number or not.

            I don't know...I just hope they do something. As it stands right now, package tracking in Google Now has loads of room for improvement.

    • http://www.maverickcreative.ca/ Joshua Richards

      Works in Canada for some as well.

  • Mark

    This is another nice update, but I'm still waiting for multiple account support for Google Now.

  • woj_tek

    uhm... and I finally de-graded and disabled search on my nexus... why? it started frigging popping every few minutes notification about confirmation my work address (some weird address I used about month ago for navigation) - I did not change it, it is still correct in latitude and google did not want to accept correctly entered proper address... argh!
    as a bonus I got rid of annoyng "now" button which appeared when you swiped from bottom of the screen :D

  • Will Dutton

    what i am dying to see is offline voice dictation, its rolled into the search app for some reason even though its only useful really for the keyboard.

    i really want this on my dhd running cm10.1 it shouldnt be too hard i could flash an ics version and that gave me offline voice but meant i couldnt update the app through the play store

  • Freak4Dell

    Real-time package tracking makes the package card actually useful. There's still room for improvement, though. It should be able to recognize any tracking number, not just one from particular retailers.

    • SK

      Sorry, what's real time about it? None of the data in the example picture in this article seems real time. The card already used to show "shipped" or "delivered". If it's just the "estimated arrival" that's not really real time or very much useful after opening it the first time. Proper real time would be the card showing the last location the package was scanned at. Does it do that?

      • Freak4Dell

        I was just going off what the article said. I haven't got a card to test it out with, so I have no idea if it's real-time or not. I agree with you that real-time means showing each scan point.

  • fixxmyhead

    anyone ever see the walking/biking card? i do alot of exercise and walk alot but ive never seen that card. i dont see any options in the new update. i have mostly everything enabled. does it rely on another app like my tracks maybe? anyone know

    • http://twitter.com/zackeryfretty Zackery Fretty

      Only once a month, so, maybe you'll see it soon now that it's April.

      • fixxmyhead

        Nope never seen it and from what I've search that card has been added since December of last year

        • http://twitter.com/SportsAndTV Brian Pearcy

          Never been able to get it to pop up either.

    • andy gowrley

      Saw it once when it first started out requested it to carry on and then it never came back :-(

  • http://twitter.com/tigerhawkvok Philip Kahn

    You can now set your transit time to places as biking or walking, rather than just car or bus.

  • http://www.maverickcreative.ca/ Joshua Richards

    I've never seen the walking / biking card, and I've never gotten a package tracking card even though I've purchased items from Amazon and Ebay.

    Any ideas? I'm in Canada.

    • Adrian Zugaj

      Probably because Canada.

      • http://www.maverickcreative.ca/ Joshua Richards

        Do you mean "Probably because you live in Canada?", if so, no that's not the reason. My cousin, who also lives in Canada, gets the updates, our language settings are the same.

    • Demetrius

      I saw the walking card just this month! But nope no packages.

  • http://shanked.me/ Shank

    This update breaks certain voice ques. "Navigate home" used to properly open navigation to your set home address - now it instead searches for locations with home in the name. If you try "I need directions," it suggests opening Mapquest.

  • FrillArtist

    I've been able to track packages in Google Now for a long time.

  • Bleakvision

    Meh, gave up on Google Now long ago. Make your features international (and multilingual) or GTFO.

  • Oliver

    I still can't get the weather card to show up. This is a bug that a lot of people seem to have. The card only shows up when I'm in another city than where I actually live. Playing with the settings doesn't help. This is my only gripe with Google Now.

  • http://twitter.com/misterE33 Mr E

    i always enable google now when big new updates come in, and then disable it again after a week or so. am i the only one that just doesn't use it?

    • Scott

      For one it keeps the phone awake resulting in worse battery life.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Vinh-Tran/511021743 Andrew Vinh Tran

    There is also full resolution pictures within Google images.

  • clankfu

    Strange but searches have been slower for me on both my S3 and Nexus 7 since the update. Anyone else experiencing this?