We've been pawing through today's Google Search update and one item in particular deserves a little more attention. Some of the cards in Google Now are getting an interesting tweak – they're bundled and have a cool animation when opened.
Update: Google says Now is coming to the beta channel this week, but it is already showing up for us on some machines.
Google Now is one of Android's central features these days, but we've known for a long time that Google was planning to bring it to Chrome on the desktop too. The feature first broke cover in the Chrome canary build, which is a standalone pre-dev version of the browser.
One of the most powerful, albeit underused, features of Android is the ability to get search results directly from within the apps installed on our devices. While there has been a bit of conflict over the so-called Unified Search patent, the fact is, that functionality is alive and well. Ok, it's actually not doing all that great on Android 4.4 - which is to say, it's only working with a few of the many apps that should be searchable.
Heads up, Android users: there's a Google Search update that just landed in the Play Store. Google's tendency for staged rollouts means that some of you might not get an automatic update for a few days, but as usual, we've got the APK download below. There are a few noticeable visible changes in the integrated Google Experience Launcher, but that's about it as far as new features go. This is an incremental update after the massive 3.1.8 update from last month.
Google Now's website has received a slick new redesign, and it's quite a looker. The landing page is now rich with animations and background video, providing an experience so immersive that if you haven't already tried Google Now, or even if you've just been taking a break, you might want to go fire it back up. The page offers a great primer for anyone who isn't already aware of what Google's portable personal assistant is capable of.
Google Now is pretty amazing, and it just keeps getting better as Google finds new ways to expose knowledge from its massive data repository. It's hard not to become addicted to everything that Now can offer. But what if you just got your hands on Google's latest flagship phone, went through the setup process, and then discovered Google Now doesn't work? Not only have some Nexus 5 owners had this experience, a few of them have even seen Google Now stop working across all of their other devices.
Now that the KitKat update has started rolling out to various Nexus devices, we're, unfortunately, seeing no traces of the Google Experience Launcher, which confirms an earlier report stating as much. No GEL means no transparency in the default and a pretty barebones boring AOSP launcher. It also means no Google Now integration and no "Ok Google" hotword support while on any home screen.
Boring Nexus 7 launcher
However, not all is lost.
Easily one of the coolest features of the Moto X (and its sister DROID devices on Verizon) is the Touchless Control function, which allows users to say "OK Google Now" from anywhere and activate voice actions. That functionality is built in to Android 4.4... with some rather hefty limitations.
First of all, the "OK Google" command will be hardware-dependent. Google isn't saying exactly what the required silicon is, but at the moment, only the Nexus 5 will have access to the feature - even the other Nexus devices due to be updated won't be able to join in.
Google Search is a really handy feature, but are you using its voice features to the fullest? Probably not, unless you're Jean-Louis Nguyen. This YouTube user posted a video last year showing off everything Google Voice Search was capable of, but that was early on. Google Search has evolved a lot in the past year, and Nguyen got in touch to let us know there's a new demo video. It's over 10 minutes of voice search queries, many of which you probably didn't know were possible.
The Google Search 2.7 APK teardown is now officially the longest one in the history of Android Police. We find a bunch of interesting things, post about them, continue digging, and what do you know - keep running into new stuff. I'm fairly positive there won't be part 4 this time around, as we've squeezed out every last drop from v2.7, but as they say - never say never.
If you haven't read the first two parts yet, you should do so now to cover the bases.