Google is continuing to refine what data you can access without ever leaving its browser-based search interface. A few of the more complex options for searching popular culture have now made their way from the desktop to Android, and they've also been given some impressive layout adjustments. According to Google's own search blog, contextual information for music, movies, and television shows will now appear in a dedicated sub-section of Google Search. Some of this was already available, but some of it's definitely new.
When you need to find an image, you probably head straight to Google image search. And if you need to find that image again... you probably do the search again. Well, maybe not anymore. Google has added the ability to "star" images and organize them for easy access later.
Google does things—a lot of things. For two years now, the company has been indexing the content inside of apps. This way it can point you to other Android apps when they can better provide answers to your query than a general website. Google says 40% of searches done on Android bring up app content.
But there remained two issues with this approach. One, Google could only display information from apps that had matching content available on the web. Two, opening results required installing said app if you hadn't done so already.
Now Google will begin showing content that exists only in apps, and it will start offering you the option to stream apps that you don't have installed.
You never needed to phrase a search as a question in order for Google to provide an answer, but that didn't stop many of us from doing so anyway. And this was before smartphones and tablets started prompting us to ask questions using our voice. Fortunately, the habit hasn't stopped Google from telling us what we want to know, and now the search engine is becoming smart enough to understand some of our more complicated questions.
Forget Offline Navigation! OK, don't forget it, but set it aside for a moment because Google Maps just got the greatest update ever, it just doesn't have anything to do with offline. Navigation now supports the option to search along your current route for new destinations. Now you can easily side-track on your long road trips to get gas, food, or even do a little shopping. It's quick, simple, and super useful.
You've been able to tell Android to place calls by voice since time immemorial, but it has gotten a lot smarter over the years. Now, with OK Google commands, you can place a call without even touching the phone. It only makes sense you could activate the speakerphone in that situation, and indeed you can. At some point, Google added the ability to begin a call on speakerphone with only a voice command.
In addition to revised hardware for Chromecast and the new Chromcast Audio, Google also announced a new version of the Chromecast app at its San Francisco event. This updated app is more than just a connection tool, it's a content discovery portal, automatically detecting Chromecast and Chromecast Audio-compatible apps on your phone or tablet. It will show popular and personalized content suggestions to users, and recommend new Chromecast apps from the Play Store.
The new default screen is What's On, a sort of pick-and-mix of the Chromecast-compatible content on your phone right now. It's presented in a scrolling list of categories, not unlike the home page of the Play Store app.
In an apparent effort to boost app discoverability and engagement, it looks like Google is rolling out a beautiful new layout for "apps" search results on mobile. Doing a quick search for pretty much anything followed by the word "apps" will get you a grid of app results above the normal search results, each block colored according to the app's icon. Clicking the "expand" button opens up the grid, with more results smoothly flowing in. Check it out in motion below.
Worth noting is that these results seem to only appear on Android for now - the download numbers and ratings of course reflect Play Store stats, and each block will take you to the relevant Play Store listing.
Google announced a new feature of Google Now at I/O this year called Now on Tap. It hasn't been available in any of the Android M developer previews, but it looks like one of the more exciting things to happen to Now since its introduction in 2012. Most of the original Google Now developers won't be around to see it, though. According to Re/code, many engineers that helped make Google Now a reality left in the months before I/O.