Coming Soon: “Now On Tap,” An Expanded Version Of Google Now That Works In Apps & Mobile Browsers

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To borrow a cliché, it’s like Google Now on steroids. It’s called Now On Tap, and Google announced it this morning at Google I/O, the company’s annual conference for developers.

Google’s Aparna Chennapragada, the product director for Google Now (who’s speaking at SMX Advanced next week, by the way), says her team has focused on a three-prong approach for Now On Tap: understanding context, providing answers and helping users take action.

Google Now already does that, but the idea behind Now On Tap is to make it smarter and faster, and make it work (almost) anywhere on your Android smartphone. Now On Tap will be accessible by tapping and holding the phone’s Home button — that’ll bring up Google Now cards whether you’re in an app or using your mobile browser.

Chennapragada shared a few specific use cases of how Now On Tap works:

  • while reading an email with the movie title Tomorrowland in the text, tapping and holding the Home button brings up a Google Now card about the movie, with links to play the trailer on YouTube or look up info on IMDB (among others)
  • in a text message that mentions a local restaurant, tapping and holding the Home button brings up local business info with Yelp and OpenTable buttons links (among others)
  • while reading an article about the TV show Veep in a mobile browser, Now On Tap brings up Google Now cards about actor Hugh Laurie (Chennapragada said this could be done by tapping on the Hugh Laurie photo in the article; I’m not clear if she meant to say it’s done via the Home button)

“When you tap and hold on the Home button,” Chennapragada said, “you’re telling Google Now, ‘here’s something I need help with.'”

The Now On Tap cards are Google’s best guess at the information you want based on what you’re doing. If the cards don’t provide what you need, Now On Tap also lets you say “Okay Google” from any screen or app to ask a specific question.

Chennapragada said Now On Tap is part of the upcoming Android M operating system which will be released to consumers later this year. Developers don’t need to do anything new to have their apps work with Now On Tap, as long as the apps are being indexed by Google.

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