It's Wednesday, and you know what that means – yes, Google is updating apps. This week we've got a search update to version 3.4 and it has some good stuff going on. We're still checking it out, but it looks like automatic parking detection is a go. Or stop... whatever.
Ever since Google Now became a thing, I've used the hell out of Google search on my phone. Need to find a gas station? "Ok Google, where's the closest gas station?" Trying to find someplace I've never been before? "OK Google, navigate to <address>." You know, common stuff that just makes sense.
Now, Google is making it easier to find a restaurant near you, which includes a new "filter" option that lets the user define certain criteria, like price, rating, hours, and type of cuisine.
Update: Google has finally provided clarification on the recent Search update. Going forward, Google Now will shoot you an alert if it detects a traffic incident along your drive, and as you can see clearly in the image below, the app is pulling this information via Waze.
Have you ever been in a situation that warranted the need for instant access to your phone's camera? Then you fumbled around, unlocking things and swiping all over, only to miss the moment. Shame, really. If only there were a way to grab your phone and say "take a picture!" and make it happen.
Google apparently knows your pain, so you know what it did? Added "take a picture" to the voice actions in Search.
Sometimes Android fans outside of the US feel a bit left out by Google. Not without good reason (and not without telling us and everyone else about it) - Google tends to focus on America for major products and features and expand them to the rest of the world at their leisure. Well Android users down under can now use the voice activation in Google Search and Google Now, or at least use it with a little more ease.
Google added Cricket-related functionality to Google Now just shy of a week ago, and it looks like this update is expanding on it slightly. Cricket teams also have a logo next to their names, whereas they didn't before.
Before and after.
Ever since Google Now became a thing, Search has been the go-to voice command hub for all of Android. There has been one nagging issue, however: when using a Bluetooth headset, a long-press of the action button would bring up the tired old Voice Dialer, which is essentially useless for anything other than making a call. What if I just have to know how tall Joakim Noah is while out cycling.
You've got to give it to Google: the company has its finger on the pulse of the world's search habits. Take the upcoming Sochi Olympics - while Russia itself seems poised for an international embarrassment of epic proportions, Google has already tuned up its search engine with Sochi information for desktop and mobile searches. Most searches with "olympics" and an event will return a quick schedule and/or results card in the Knowledge Graph area.
An update to Chrome beta a few weeks ago came with the bizarre side effect that hotword detection no longer worked in the Google search app or in the Google Now Launcher (GNL). The next version of Chrome beta didn't do anything to fix it, either. Well, Google Search to the rescue – yesterday's big search update seems to have fixed hotword detection.
There was a time not so long ago when entering keywords into a search engine and getting back a list of relevant URLs was convenient enough, but these days, long after the novelty of search engines has worn off, sifting through pages of blue and purple links can feel quite tedious. So Google is continuing to do more to make using its primary service easier. Starting today, when you click on the name next to a website's link in your search results, you will get served a small window providing a little bit more information than what's provided on the page.