Smartphone Quick Tips: Google Now


Do you ever wish you had a personal assistant? 

Someone to mark your appointments in your calendar, make sure you arrive at work on time, or remind you to grab AAA batteries for your TV remote next time you go to the store?

Google NowGoogle Now can do all of this and more.  Goggle Now works with any Android phone running version 4.1 or later.  If you phone does not already have it installed, just download the Google Search App (this app works on iPhones too!).  If your phone has Google Now built in just say “Okay, Google” and ask away.  If it is not built into the phone’s software, you will need to open the Google Search App first.  Don’t worry, you don’t have to speak like a robot for Google Now to understand you.  It responds to a more conversational tone and can even built on previous questions.  What does that mean?  Let’s say you ask Google “Who created Batman?”.  You can then follow that question with “When?” without the need to restate specifics.  Google automatically fills in the blanks changing your search from “When?” to “When was Batman Created?”.

Google Now does more than searches. Works in the background organizing information that is important to you.  It presents this info in “card” form.  Google Now personalizes “cards” for you with info on your interests, important calendar dates, reminders, weather, traffic updates for your daily commute, and more.  You can give Google hints as to what info you value by entering personal data such as your home and work addresses, favorite sports teams, schedule, etc… Or you can set Google Now to collect this data through your phone’s GPS and web history.Cards

On Android phones, Google Now uses GPS to learn your routine.  It recognizes frequented locations like work and home.  Once this info is gathered Google Now will create a card with the best route to work and provide navigation, traffic conditions, alternate routes, and let know when you need to leave to be on time.  It can even remember where you parked your car.  Google Now uses your phone’s accelerometer to recognize when you have changed from driving to walking and remembers the location.  If you frequently search for scores for your favorite sports teams, Google will recognize this and create cards with upcoming game dates and times, live game scores with a link to play-by-play, and the most recent game’s final score.

photo 3 (2)Other cards you may see:  Looking for info on public transit?  Google Now has a card that will show upcoming bus/train arrivals for the nearest stop/station. Create a card to update you on when online orders are shipped and delivered.  Use cards to help you keep track of friend’s birthdays.  Locations based cards can show you nearby events and attractions, as well as spots for great photo opportunities.  Do a Google search for a movie, TV show, or album and click “Get Updates” for notifications cards on the latest info and reminders on release dates.  Sync your Chrome browser history for update cards on your favorite website or blog.  Check your Google Now settings to turn on and off different types of cards.Card settings

But it is not just about the cards.  You can use Google Now to dictate texts and emails, get directions, hear your daily schedule, search the internet, open apps, set alarms, create reminders, and so much more.  Below are a few examples of what you can ask Google Now, feel free to adjust the portions in parentheses to fit your needs.   The best part, there are no rules on how you ask.  No phrasing formulas that need to be followed.  So experiment, see what Google Now has to offer.

  • Show me a video of (a dog in a Superman costume).
  • Show me pictures of (cute cats).
  • Define (octothorpe).
  • When does (Tech Armor) close?
  • What is the status of (Hawaiian Airlines) flight (123)?
  • What is the weather like tomorrow?
  • What is a good (sushi restaurant) near me?
  • Text (mom) “(Have you seen my math book?)”
  • Create new calendar event (BBQ) at (2pm Sunday).
  • Note to self “(Return library books)”.
  • Set an alarm for (30 minutes) from now, label (game time).
  • Remind me to (get my phone fixed) when I am at (Ala Moana Shopping Center).
  • Call (Tech Armor).
  • Navigate me to (Tech Armor).   [Google will search for addresses and phone numbers.]
  • Listen to (song/artist/album).
  • What is this song? [Google will listen to the song and search for the name/artist/album.]
  • Open (Pandora).
  • What is (8+4+5+10+9+4)?