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.
One of Google's big innovations in Android Marshmallow is Now On-Tap, a contextual search service that uses the content on your screen to perform searches and find relevant information. It's only going to work on Android 6.0, but Microsoft has just updated the Bing app with a similar feature called Snapshots that will work on any device.
Do you like to frequent places when they're at their busiest or do you prefer to slip in when no one else is around? No matter. Google Search will now help you do both. When you search for certain establishments, Google will show you which times of the day are the most popular.
Just search for a place's name and click on its card in the search results. Underneath the address and phone number you might see a scrollable chart showing when folks tend to stop by.
Results will vary. I had success when trying Blue Bottle Williamsburg, the coffee shop in Google's example.
Google really wants you to know that voice searches are a thing, so it's taken to rolling suggestions out to some users in the home screen search bar. We covered that the other day, but since then we've gotten a few tips that similar messages are appearing inside the Google app itself. See for yourself.