Unless you've been living under a rock in recent weeks, you may have heard about some soccer thing that's happening soon (football, to those of us this side of the Atlantic). The 2018 FIFA World Cup is almost upon us, and Google has some tricks up its sleeve to assist fans around the globe. As the tournament kicks off with Russia vs Saudi Arabia next Thursday, new features in the Google app will help you keep up with all the action. Other Google products will also be on hand to improve the experience, including Assistant, News, Trends, and Maps.
Google search is already pretty good for sports games generally, both in the app and on the web. As usual, World Cup-related searches will bring up info such as fixtures and news, but there will also be some new cards displaying standings, stats, and trending players as the tournament unfolds. Before each game, cards for news, lineups, and winning probabilities will be shown. Video recaps for each match will be made available in Search within 30 minutes of the final whistle.
Probably the best new feature in Search is the detailed timeline, similar to what you might find in a dedicated soccer app or on a news site. Updates will include important game events, stats, tweets, images, and more. And if you want to keep up with a game while you carry on doing other stuff, there's even a score pinning feature. Cody noticed evidence of this in a recent teardown of the Google app, and now we see what it's for.
Tap the 'Pin live score' button on a match card and a floating bubble will be created with the flags of the countries involved as well as the current scoreline and amount of time that's elapsed. This can be moved around the screen to stay out of the way while you perform other actions, like Facebook Messenger Chat Heads or the Google Phone app's minimized call controls. You can tap the bubble to expand more information, and from there head back to the Google app for the full timeline.
Google News was recently redesigned, and now it's getting some dedicated soccer features. The World Cup Tracker in the Android app will get a pretty UI for live scores, highlights, results, and schedules (see top image). It will also include links to YouTube for additional video content. This won't be available to everyone, however, as it's restricted to users in the UK, Germany, France, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Colombia, and the US.
If you want to see what World Cup topics are the hottest during the tournament, head to Google Trends for real-time interactive search information (like above). You can ask Google Assistant almost anything about the World Cup and it'll keep you in the know. Some questions will elicit "fun BTW stats" too. Google Doodles from local artists in competing countries will also appear in Search on the web and in the Google app.
If you actually want to watch the action live, Google Maps will go to special lengths to highlight local places that are "good for watching sports." Street View will give you a tour of some of the stadiums where the action will take place, such as the Otkrytye Arena or St. Petersburg Stadium.
Finally, YouTube will make it easy for you to catch up on any games you miss, with highlights videos from official broadcasters in more than 80 countries. US users will be able to watch live games through YouTube TV and even record matches with the cloud DVR feature.
The only issue I can see here is if you're one of those types who likes to avoid the scores all day until you get to catch up on the action later. You might want to turn your phone off entirely if that's you, as Google is going to make it pretty impossible to miss out on anything.