Google Now, the smart digital assistant that predicts what you want to know before you ask for it, has gradually become more and more important to Android users. Google Now is designed to be as straightforward and as automated as possible, but that doesn't mean there aren't options and settings to play around with. We'll guide you through some of the app's best features and show you how to use Google Now to its full potential.
If you're using the latest stock version of Android Lollipop, you can access Google Now by swiping left from the home screen. Alternatively, tap and hold on the home button and drag upwards. You can also launch Google Now from the Google app in the apps drawer (the same way you find it on iOS devices).
Scroll up and down the screen to see the various updates that Google has for you. The interface might be fairly quiet or very busy, depending on what you're currently doing, the time of day, upcoming events on your agenda, and various other factors. Items can be quickly dismissed with a swipe to the right.
In most cases, tapping on a card leads you to a browser window - whether that's showing the weather or a website you frequently visit. Scroll right down to the bottom of Google Now interface and tap More (if available) to see a group of cards that Google isn't sure whether you need or not.
Customizing your cards
Google Now makes a lot of assumptions about who you are and what you want to see, but you don't have to settle for the information that's served up. All of the cards in Google Now can be customized by tapping the More menu (three horizontal dots) on the right-hand side. You'll be asked if you want to keep receiving this specific update and these kind of updates in general.
For more control over how the app works, open the menu (the three horizontal lines at the top left) then choose Customize. This gives you access to all of the different topics covered by Google Now — stock prices, places you've been to, sports teams, TV and radio programs and so on. The Everything else category acts as a catch-all for Google Now cards that don't fit anywhere else.
Once you get into a specific topic you can tell Google Now what your interests are: The sports teams you follow, the movies you've watched, and so on. The interface isn't particularly well organized but it does let you tweak the cards that are served up to some extent. The Sports section, for example, lets you confirm your favorite teams and hide score spoilers during live matches.
Any changes you make are immediately applied and reflected in Google Now. If there's something new that isn't covered by the menus then the easiest way to add it is to spend a lot of time searching for it through Google on the web (while you're signed in) or from your Android device.
Change language, share commute info, and more
Tap the Google Now menu button then choose Settings and another range of options appear. You can change the language used by the app, whether or not you share your commute to work, which apps are included in Google Now searches, and a host of other minor options related to Google's tool.
Select Now cards and you can turn Google Now cards on or off, clear your search history, and reset the preferences you've chosen for all of your cards at once — this is helpful if you've previously dismissed some cards that you want to bring back, and you'd like to start the process again from scratch.
There are also a few settings relating to the way you get notifications about Google Now cards. Remember that these notifications are an important part of Android Wear as well — some of the most important Google Now cards are going to pop up on your smartwatch at different points in the day.
There's more to Google Now than customized cards as well. You can run searches from the top search bar (either typed or spoken) and set reminders for particular tasks based around a time or location (though the app menu or through the search box).