Over the past few weeks and months, it seems Google has been testing out a minor tweak to the search bar that appears on the home screen above your apps. Instead of simply showing Say "OK Google," some of our readers are seeing search recommendations such as "OK Google 15% of 80" and "OK Google... Movies nearby."
The former shows that you can use Google to do math. The latter nudges people to use Search to find what movie theaters are currently playing nearby. Many of us may already be accustomed to this functionality, but these recommendations serve as a way to subtly inform a broader audience of all the things Google Search can do. Read More
We're not sure when this behavior changed in WhatsApp — I was able to track it down as far back as version 2.12.134 but it might have been there before — but it's worth pointing out nonetheless, if only for its boost in convenience. It used to be that whenever you wanted to look for specific words in your WhatsApp chats, you first had to select the conversation where that word occurred and then perform the search. That was useful, but only to a limited extent, because if you were looking for that restaurant recommendation from a few months ago, you might have forgotten which friend mentioned it to you. Read More
There are a lot of choices for weather apps on Android - you can see the best in Rita El Khoury's roundup from yesterday. But if you prefer to have as few apps on your phone as possible (because Windows RAM-saving behavior dies hard), Google has just improved the built-in weather function of its mobile search. Specifically, the Knowledge Graph function that shows you weather for a specific location now extends for ten days.
It's not a huge change, but it makes it easier to figure out the long-range forecast at a glance. The Search function even allows you to break down the day-by-day forecast by hour with a handy slider. Read More
A few days ago, we wrote about Google's new My Account interface, which had its material design debut coinciding with Google I/O. The new interface makes checking and adjusting your security and privacy settings both beautiful and easy.
The My Account page wasn't the only account management tool that got some material love though - Google's account history interface has also received a facelift. The account history page now ties together all your history from various Google services - history is broken into Web & App, Voice & Audio, Device info, Location, YouTube Watch, and YouTube Search, along with a general heading to turn on or off history for each of the above sections. Read More
Google isn't the only word that can follow OK. SoundHound has developed a voice assistant of its own, and while the project is still in invite-only beta, the newly available app is clearly going after Google Now. From the moment you utter the words OK Hound, you know you're in for something similar, but different.
SoundHound thinks Hound is special due to its ability to better understand speech. The assistant responds to naturally phrased questions and can handle detailed inquiries. The example in the provided screenshots shows Hound responding to: "Show me hotels in miami with availability monday staying three nights between one hundred fifty to two hundred fifty dollars that have a pool and are pet friendly."
The provided results, if accurate, are more informative than the general search Google dishes out. Read More
Besides new family-friendly and kid-friendly efforts on search and discovery in the Play Store, Google announced during its keynote today that Play Store search will be getting smarter overall.
Specifically, Google wants to more effectively surface apps when users search for vague or topical queries. The example given in the screenshot above shows the user searching for "shopping" apps. The Play Store then returns, of course, shopping apps. But those apps are then categorized intelligently into different sub-genres like Fashion and Coupons.
This may seem like a small tweak to most users, but - if Google is right - it will help introduce users to the right app when the user is not sure exactly what they're looking for, which is a good step in helping along discoverability in the Play Store as a whole. Read More
Google Now is based on getting you data that matches your context—your location, time of day, what you've been searching for, and so on. A new feature of Google Now in Android M called "On Tap" will take that a step further by using the context of what you're doing on the phone to find answers.
You might remember way back in August of 2014 there was a cool addition to Chrome for Android that places possible answers to your queries in the Omnibar suggestions. It's been active this whole time, but only if you toggle the flag. Now it appears to be live for everyone.
You don't even have to spell it right Read More
If you're looking for a nearby place to eat and want directions on how to get there, open Google Maps first. If you try using the Google Search app or the web, you probably won't get the results you want.
You see, Search is currently having a hard time giving out directions. If you tap the icon underneath a restaurant, it will open up Google Maps, but after that... nothing.
Yup, as you can see, I'm somewhere in Virginia. As for the nearest pizza place, it's presumably somewhere along the East Coast.
This bug is pretty easy to replicate. Search for something nearby in the Google Search app or the web. Read More