Google Now on Tap Hands-On: Contextual Awesomeness

By Brent Rose on at

One of the most exciting features in the (distant future) release of Android M is the upgraded version of Google Now. It’s built to understand context better than before. I just got a quick look at it on a Googler’s Nexus 5, and while this was obviously a demo, I’m cautiously optimistic about it.

The first scenario we were showed is when somebody emails you about seeing a movie. You just Long-press the home button and Now on Tap pulls up contextually relevant apps. You can see above, someone mentioned Pitch Perfect 2 in an email, Now understand that that’s a movie, and apps like YouTube, IMDB, and Flixter automatically pop up. This is nice for app developers, too, because they just have to index their app correctly and it will pop up more often on people’s phones, giving them more exposure.

Google Now on Tap Hands-On: Contextual Awesomeness

In the second example, someone texted him through Viber about checking out Coit Tower. Just long press the home key...

Google Now on Tap Hands-On: Contextual Awesomeness

And it tells you what and where Coit Tower is. Click into TripAdvisor...

Google Now on Tap Hands-On: Contextual Awesomeness

...and you’ve got all the info you need.

Google Now on Tap Hands-On: Contextual Awesomeness

In the next example, he was listening to a song he likes. He activated voice search...

Google Now on Tap Hands-On: Contextual Awesomeness

...and all he had to ask was, “Who’s the lead singer?” He didn’t even have to say the band’s name. Now on Tap understood the context.

Google Now on Tap Hands-On: Contextual Awesomeness

Next up, he has a friend in Japan who’s been posting cool photos to Instagram.

Google Now on Tap Hands-On: Contextual Awesomeness

He long-presses the home button and the info about the venue pops up (I’m guessing this only works if the photographer geo-tagged the pic). He could then say...

Google Now on Tap Hands-On: Contextual Awesomeness

“Show me more pictures of this place.” And...

Google Now on Tap Hands-On: Contextual Awesomeness

He didn’t even have to know how to pronounce it, but he got the pics from Google Images that he wanted.

Again, this was pretty walled-in and I’m sure they made sure these example would work before they showed it to reporters, so this is in no way a review or a report on how it’ll work in the real world. That said, it certainly has the potential to save a lot of time and clicking. And as our friend Damon from Jalopnik notes, it can’t come to Android Auto fast enough. Agreed.