Category: Google Now

Updated Google Now Forces Icon Conformity

If you are a developer, regardless if it is on Android, iOS or Windows Phone, there are guidelines.  Those guidelines tell developers how things are to function in their app, how things are to be laid out and how big things are suppose to be in it.  The idea is to provide a uniform user experience regardless of the app the user happens to be in at the time.  Google, when it comes to Android, is no different but when it comes to the guidelines around icon sizes in the launcher, developers haven’t always adhered to the rules.  So Google is forcing the issue.  In the latest update to the Google Now launcher and the Google Search app, icon sizes are uniform thanks to a change in the software the reduces the size of larger-than-they-should-be icons.

With the update, which is rolling out now to the Google Play Store, regardless of the size of the icon that the developer has created for their app, the Google Now launch will enforce a size limit on it, shrinking it down to the guideline sizes per the design guide.  If it sounds draconian, it is a little bit but to be fair Google isn’t doing anything that Apple or Microsoft doesn’t do already.  For their part, Apple will simply reject your app if your icon is larger than it should be and the same holds true for Microsoft.  Google has been a bit more lax on it to this point but it would seem those days are over.

So why as an end user would you care?  Aesthetics mostly but also by having icons a uniform size, it lowers the chance of you accidentally “side touching” an icon when you meant to open the app next to it.

Google Now Voice Commands – Part 1: Commands

While searching by text has been available to smartphone users for many years now, voice commands to search and do other things is still relatively new.  Sure there have been attempts at it in the past but over the course of the last 18 months with Siri (Apple), Cortana (Microsoft) and Google Now, the ability to do far more than simply search for web content with your voice has grown exponentially.  In fact the challenge now is not so much what you can’t say to your device but remembering what you can say to your device.

This is the first part in a multi-part series on voice commands with Google Now.  I will preface this by saying that this by no means should be considered definitive or final.  Google is continually adding voice commands to the service and while I do plan to update these posts as time goes on, undoubtedly I will miss something.  Your help, of course, is appreciated in finding new commands.  For this first post I am going to focus on commands that you can give to your phone or tablet to perform a function or to get you information.

The way I have structured the information after the break is whatever you find (parenthetically) is the user adjustable command.  For example, “What time is it in (Denver)?”.

Google Now On Tap In Google Play Store

One of the big additions to the Google Now launcher and Android Marshmallow has been Now on Tap.  With this new feature, you can tap and hold the home button on your Android phone or tablet and get contextual information about what it is you are reviewing on your device.  The idea and first implementation was around Google Chrome so if you were viewing a website, you could get more granular information about that site.

The good news is that Google is expanding Now on Tap and it works in the Google Play Store app on your phone or tablet. If you are in the Play Store app and looking at an app, tap and hold your home button to pull up the Now on Tap information.  The context you get will vary from app-to-app.  For games I generally found that you would get links to YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.  On some developers I also got a link to the developer’s site to check out the app or others they may offer.

The Fact Google Now Records Your Voice Is Not News

Over the course of the weekend I saw several different news sites posts articles that went along the lines of “Google has been listening to your voice and recording it”.  Here is an example, and another and a third for good measure so you get the idea of what I’m talking about.  I watched in befuddled amazement as I saw link after link to these articles on Twitter, Google+ and even my personal Facebook timeline.

This isn’t news folks and the fact that your voice is recorded for, erm, a voice search should not be a shock to anyone.  In fact Google has made it clear they would be doing for some time and have always given users the ability to listen to their recordings and delete them.  Why this has all of the sudden become a big issue is a surprise to me quite frankly as recordings are both necessary for the service to work and for Google to improve their search algorithms.

Learn Google Now Commands By Saying “Hi There”

With personal assistants like OK Google, Cortana and Siri becoming omnipresent on our devices, inevitably the question arises as to what commands you can use with these services.  In the case of Google, they have made it quite simple.  If you are using the Google Now Launcher on your device or simply use the Google search function, you are one voice command away from getting a good list of all the things you can do with OK Google.

Google Now Launcher – Free – Download Now

Google Search Updated With New Google Now

As expected, the flow of Google apps updated today after the new company logo was revealed has been pretty constant. The first one I saw was Google Maps but now many of the other apps have been updated. A key one is Google Search and the new Google Now that comes along with it if you are using the Google Launcher.  Google Now is a much cleaner, more refined design now and it significantly more organized.  I personally live in and love using Google Now and this upgrade is just fantastic in my view.

Microsoft Releases Public Beta of Cortana for Android

The personal assistant wars may be getting, well, personal.  Microsoft has released a public beta of Cortana, the personal assistant found in Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile, to the Google Play Store for Android users.  Cortana is aimed to compete against Google Now for your quick search, information and reminders on your phone just like Now does.  For the longest time, Cortana was exclusive to Windows Phone 8.1 and recently made its desktop debut in Windows 10 and both allow you to simply ask your device a question starting with “Hey Cortana” and you can search anything on your PC or the Internet.  Sound familiar?  It should.  If you have used Google Now, you will see the direct competitive nature of this to “OK, Google” that you ask your phone today.

Google for Android Update With Speed and Reliability Improvements

The official Google for Android app has been updated with some minor but important updates.  The latest build, version for those keeping score at home, mainly focuses on speed improvements and reliability enhancements but there are hints of new features being on the horizon.  What those updates are exactly clear but to make sure you don’t miss them, be sure to update your Android phone and tablet with this update.  As a reminder, the Google for Android app is the foundation for Google Now that gives you relevant information about your location, your agenda and other tidbits of information that is important to you.

Google for Android – Free – Download Now

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