It's hard not to be excited about the future of Google Now. It's already an incredibly powerful tool, on its way to being a do-anything personal assistant, and we've heard tell of even more functionality from bill pay reminders to inferred events entries to contact-based reminders.

Today, though, we've heard about something that many have asked for from Google Now for a long time now - actual timer functionality. Search may not be getting its own built-in timer, but it won't be side-stepping your request to set an alarm, either.

Disclaimer: No matter the confidence level, there's always a chance product updates, features, and some or all details will be changed or cancelled altogether. As with all rumors, nothing is 100% until it's officially announced.

We do not have possession of any APKs we can distribute or unreleased devices, so please don't ask for them.

Confidence Level

Our confidence level for this particular rumor is 8/10 - not perfect, but still pretty high. Points are deducted in this case because we have not yet seen any teardown-based evidence for this feature, and of course future-release features are always subject to change or cancelation.

That said, timer functionality also appears to be present in Android Wear, and as commenter Zargh notes below, Android 4.4 already as an ACTION_SET_TIMER intent ready to start up a timer for a given length of time, should Search make use of it.

The Rumor

The rumor is essentially this: with a "set a timer..." voice query, Google Search will - at some point soon - be able to actually set a timer rather than setting an alarm for the dictated measure of time. The inability to set an actual timer has been a gripe of Search users for some time now, so it is refreshing to know that the functionality is on its way.

Based on our information - from a source familiar with upcoming Search changes - it appears that the Search app will take your query (for instance "set a timer for six minutes four seconds") and set a timer in Android's built-in Clock app, which already has a timer built right in.

This will work just like other voice commands that begin actions in other apps. If you say "navigate to work" Search will pull up a "countdown" card which, after an allotted time, will launch navigation in Maps. In the same way, a timer query will count down before launching the timer in the Clock app. From there, it's in your hands. Users can also act on these countdown cards manually to speed up the process by hitting "start."

The Evidence

It is worth reiterating here that sometimes we will not be able to provide source images for leaks or rumors like these, especially as they pertain to unreleased software. In those cases, however, we will provide our own mockups of the functionality, representing it as faithfully as possible to the source. Below are our own drawings of Now's upcoming timer functionality.

wm_timer1 wm_timer2

From the information available to us, the interface on both sides seems fairly standard, and it should be very familiar to those who use Search and Clock already.

Final Thoughts

Assuming this rumor comes to fruition, it is nice to see Search branching out into deeper device functionality. With the addition of "take a picture," "record a video," and "play some music" commands calling out to specific apps, Now has begun adding relatively vague queries to its repertoire of non-search capabilities, bringing it one step closer to being the ultimate personal assistant.

Liam Spradlin
Liam loves Android, design, user experience, and travel. He doesn't love ill-proportioned letter forms, advertisements made entirely of stock photography, and writing biographical snippets.

  • Arthur Dent

    This is cool. I have been annoyed a few times when I went to set a timer via voice command in Google Now and instead got a stupid alarm. This will be much better

    • Mr. Coors

      I agree with this comment. We share the same thoughts on this topic.

      • jesuguru

        I am literally on the same page with both of you.

        • http://www.bordersweather.co.uk/ Andy J

          Well actually your comment is literally on the same page - but you physically are not literally on the same page. This should help clear up the confusion - http://theoatmeal.com/comics/literally

  • nebula

    Shouldn't there be a "screenshot taken" icon in the statusbar, if the second screenshot happend just a few seconds later?

    • Sascha Brunner

      These are mockups not actual screenshots

      • Kostas

        They would look more real though with the screenshot icon in the notification bar :P

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      As noted in the post, we can't always provide source images of unreleased software for various reasons, so in those cases we mock up the functionality based on our information. This is one of those cases. And besides, I can't stand a cluttered notification bar :P

      • nebula

        Ok, didn't read that.

      • nebula

        Ok, didn't read that.

      • http://twitter.com/anishbhalerao Anish Bhalerao

        Oh, thank God! Finally someone at AP who does NOT like a cluttered notification bar. [I'm looking at you, Artem!]

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

    !!!!!! We have waited for so long. This is some Android 5.0 level functionality.


    Screw it.


    • Daniel Wiggins

      6:04 on clock, 6.04 confirmed!

      • Guest

        Divide both numbers with 2, what do you get?

        Half-Life 2: Episode 3 confirmed!

        • Arthur Dent

          Even better ... 6:04 / 2 = 3:02

          Half Life 3: Episode 2 confirmed! Who needs Episode 1, anyway??

          • Chris

            Gaben has spoke.

  • Taco Monster

    They're just taking this shit up another motherfucking level.

  • Zargh

    8/10 confidence is kind of low when since there's also a corresponding new ACTION_SET_TIMER intent in 4.4: http://developer.android.com/reference/android/provider/AlarmClock.html

    All the Search app needs to do is let a Voice action hook into it.

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      Fair point, I missed that. I'll make a note of it in the post!

    • usaff22

      Does that mean only 4.4 and above devices will be able to take advantage of the set timer functionality in the Search app?

      • Matthew Fry

        What do you expect? Timers are cutting edge.

        • Crispin Swickard

          Other than the fact like earlier today I actually deleted a running timer I was using, since it does not have a delete confirmation...

  • Zargh

    8/10 confidence is kind of low when since there's also a corresponding new ACTION_SET_TIMER intent in 4.4: http://developer.android.com/reference/android/provider/AlarmClock.html

    All the Search app needs to do is let a Voice action hook into it.

  • Chris

    This already works for me, I noticed it for the first time last week

  • Chris

    This already works for me, I noticed it for the first time last week

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      What, no it doesn't. Screenshot?

      • Chris

        I just tried (with confidence!) to get you that screenshot. It doesn't work for me any more! Weird... Not sure what to say other than I said something like "set alarm for 20 minutes" and was surprised that Now said it was setting the timer rather than the alarm. I then checked my alarms and there was no alarm set. The timer however had started a 20 min countdown. Note also that I have Timely installed and it set the timer with Timely rather than the built in clock. At the time I concluded that Now realised I'd asked for a relative time rather than a specific time (eg "set alarm for 8am") so chosen the timer instead - I was impressed. I don't use Now's voice feature much so didn't realise I'd encountered a new feature or sneak preview :(

    • Matthew Fry

      I call bullshit

      • Chris

        Fair enough since I have no evidence but I know what I saw and have no reason to lie about it.

        Note that when it worked for me I asked Now to set an alarm NOT a timer, but the time I specified was relative which is presumably what triggered setting a timer rather than an alarm. I haven't seen that small detail mentioned anywhere else. Maybe when the feature is rolled out and this works as I've described you'll appreciate I'm trying to help rather than troll.

  • Simon Belmont

    I'd say the best evidence was the screenshots of the Android Wear voice commands we saw a few weeks ago. One said "Set Timer" in the picture.

    Android Wear is using Google Now, so it makes sense for the features and commands to be unified. That said, I'm looking forward to this command (and many more) in the near future.

  • Simon Belmont

    Yay. I can't wait for Android 6.0.4 Marzipan.

    Oh wait. I just left a comment from the future, in the past.

  • frafri

    what is google now missing?

  • frafri

    what is google now missing?

  • http://www.andiance.com/blog Andreas

    Would be awesome if they could fix the actual setting of the time for reminders.

    (In German) I just cannot make Google Now to remind me before 12 a.m.
    When I say 7 and speech recognition understands 7, it sets a note for 19:00 (7 p.m.).
    Attaching "in the morning" doesn't help either.

    • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

      Have you tried saying "7 a.m.", or is there no logical German equivalent? I use 24-hour time despite being in the US, and that works for me. It's annoying, but it works.

      • http://www.andiance.com/blog Andreas

        Thanks for the reply, but that wouldn't work (I just tried it), because there is no German equivalent to a.m. and p.m.
        Many non-English speaking people just guess from context or use "in the morning" or 24h format.

        But: I just realized that it works when the "next" 7 o'clock is a.m. (It's past 19 here.)

        Speech recognition is great, but the commands you can give to Now are very limited. Still a lot of work to do before they can call it Star Trek computer. :-)

        • http://www.bordersweather.co.uk/ Andy J

          Did you try "seven in the morning" and "seven at night" that works for me (in English)

  • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

    Nice improvement. What I really want, though, is them to separate notification sounds for reminders versus normal Google Now notifications. I find most of their notifications are safe for me to not notice right away, so I set them to a rather innocuous tone. But reminders are kind of important and often time-sensitive. I want those to really get my attention.

    • Randy S

      You might be able to achieve this with the full version of Light Flow. The settings seem to allow it but I'm not sure how well it works in practice.

      • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

        Interesting thought. I'll look into that. I've played with the Lite version a few times, but never gotten myself to a point with it where I got value out of it. If it does this, it might be worth it.

  • redmafia


    • redmafia

      ...is what Google Now REALLY needs

  • http://flavors.me/sabret00the sabret00the

    I got all excited thinking that they were finally making it so you can set a notifications for birthday's and anniversary's that aren't at midnight.

  • Colin Richardson

    Great, but when can I get this functionality where I don't have to talk into my phone. Only time I need to use this functionality is when I'm driving.. But since I am not rich enough to buy a car that his super hermetically sealed, the noise of the car is too loud to make it work nicely.. Unless I get the phone in my hand, which I can't do when driving.

  • J_Pod

    What they need to add now is the ability to send texts and other things Without being connected to the internet.

  • codemonkey85

    I hope you can choose which app to set the timer with, like you can with alarms... I use Timely!

    • RajivSK

      Of course you use Timely, everyone should. But as you might have heard, the timely team has been acquired by Google so it won't be long until the default Android clock will be on par.

      • Chris

        This feature did work for me late last week (doesn't any more) and yes it worked seamlessly with Timely for me. I don't think there's anything to worry about here.

      • codemonkey85

        I hope you're right but I'm not totally convinced.

  • darkdude1

    I thought April fools was yesterday...

  • didibus

    Is it because I live in Canada, but Google Now sucks for me, and I never use it. I think the only thing it tells me are hockey results, and when I'm supposed to leave work.

    I absolutely never tell it to do anything, since, even if I do, it always ask me to confirm and do other things from touch input, so, though I would like to tell it to do things, it doesn't quite seem to be there yet. And it's support for bluetooth headset is abysmal.

  • Bob Janisch

    how is this different from saying "set alarm for six minutes 4 seconds from now" which currently works?

    • jfn0802

      My HTC One only takes 10 alarms and fills up because of this :/

  • Joshua

    On the one hand, great.

    On the other, why the hell was this not the default functionality from the get-go? A timer is a timer, not an alarm. It's hard to believe that it's taken this long for something that I think should've been done from the beginning.