Google Now improvements: better on Android, and coming soon to PCs


May 15, 2013

Google Now is expanding: landing in Chrome browsers, and improving on Android.

Google Now is expanding: landing in Chrome browsers, and improving on Android.

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As search technology advances, it’s going to become more and more like human interaction. Apple’s Siri might have popularized conversational search, but many of us feel that Google Now quickly surpassed it – with its faster and more accurate results. Soon much of Google Now’s functionality will be arriving on PCs, by way of the Chrome OS and web browser. Not stopping there, Google also added some improvements to Android’s Google Now.

Before long, when you use Google search in Chrome, you’ll be able to search using only your voice – no button-pressing required. Just say “Okay, Google” followed by your search, and you’ll get a spoken Google Now-like response. It’s all right in your browser.

In case you’ve never used Google Now, that means you can ask about things like the weather, directions, or how tall you have to be to ride a specific roller coaster ... and Google will speak the answer to you. Failing that, you’ll get a more typical page of Google search results.

You’ll also be able to continue the conversation with follow-up questions (much like Siri). Google will “remember” your last query and continue the “conversation” on that subject. So after asking about the population of Las Vegas, you can say “how far is it?” and Google will tell you. Yep, it’s the future.

Updated Google Now for Android

The Google Search app for Android has already been updated today with some cool new features.

Reminders have long been one of the few ways that Google Now lagged behind Siri, but that’s no longer an issue. Tell Google Now what to remind you about – and when – and it will alert you when that time comes. Like Siri, it’s all done conversationally, so no need to memorize specific commands.

The updated Google Now also adds a few new perks that Apple’s reminders don’t have. If you take the same train every day, Google Now already knows that. With the new version, if you’re about to miss the last train, Now will remind you that you’d better hurry. These are technically reminders, but are really extensions of the predictive functionality that Now has always had.

Google didn’t give an exact release date for the new Chrome voice search, but the updated Google Now for Android is available now. If you have a Jelly Bean (Android 4.1 or higher) device, just update the Google Search app.

Source: Google

About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin is Gizmag's Mobile Tech Editor, and has been part of the team since 2012. Before finding a home at Gizmag, he had stints at a number of other sites, including Android Central, Geek and the Huffington Post. Will has a Master's degree from U.C. Irvine and a Bachelor's from West Virginia University. He currently lives in New Mexico with his wife, Jessica. All articles by Will Shanklin

It's worth mentioning that the latest version of Chrome Beta 27 has voice integration already. However the hot-talk doesn't seem to work yet so you have to click the button and then talk to it which defeats the purpose.


And so the types of search divide into two:

Type 1 (Android) is typified by the examples in the article: "So after asking about the population of Las Vegas, you can say “how far is it?” and Google will tell you." The use of 'Now' in the title seems particularly apt.

Type 2 (PC) is more for researching a topic in depth and probably involve the reading of Wikipedia entries and the like with cut and paste into the user's documents being desirable, if not almost essential. With this application 'Now' is irrellevant as the related task that is being researched could have a deadline months or even years into the future.

Mel Tisdale

Updated this morning, and honestly it still has some big flaws. For one, after it runs your voice recognition, there is no check-back. You get your results, and then are stuck on a screen where you have to press a button to voice search again. That may not seem like much, but in most situations where voice search is actually useful (walking to the car and trying to get directions, for instance) it is a real pain if it either doesn't hear or misinterprets what was said. It also has a problem with interpenetrating syntax. If I say, for instance "play tool" it searches for the term on Google, but if I tell it to "Play 10000 Days" it plays... well Natalie Merchant's 10000 maniacs (and not because it misheard me, because the voice recognition text is right). Of course, there is no way for me to say "no" or provide feedback, and finding a list of recognized commands is a little hard too.

Perhaps the strangest thing is that some parts seem to have feedback: "Google, navigate to 5 Technology Square" returns with GlaDOS telling you "navagating" but if it happens to go to search, there is no "searching" verbal feedback to allow you to try again, and while "play" has a timer where I can cancel the command, that's the extent of GlaDOS' involvement. This has led to me embarrassingly waiting for something to happen when, in fact, there is nothing worth mentioning taking place in the past, and the update does nothing noticeable to address this.

Charles Bosse

google voice is a far cry from Siri's first shot comprehension and response. And I dont' even have an iPhone. I just have envy whenever someone with an iPhone uses Siri. In stead of my Samsung Note 2 telling me Google Voice needs to reset. Or, "Sorry, I'm not sure I can help you. I can search the web."

Jim Bentz
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