Google Now is a feature you might not know you already have on your smartphone or tablet, or even have access to. It's a really handy source of information so here's where we show you how to use Google Now and what it can do.
What is Google Now?
Google Now is a service which provides you with information. By getting to know you and using other information like your location, it will serve up data which it thinks you'll want. The general idea is that it will display things which you are going to search for, therefore saving you the hassle of actually conducting said search.
As Google puts it, "See helpful cards with information that you need throughout your day, before you even ask."
Information is displayed in cards so you will likely see a card for a weather forecast and this might show information for different locations like home and work. The more you use Google Now, the more it can help you out with everything from sports scores, stocks and shares, suggested articles, flight information and more.
The service will also provide notifications: for example, it might tell you of a delay to you daily commute or remind you that you need to leave the office if you're going to arrive on time for a meeting. We'll explain how to get the most out of Google Now below.
What devices can I use Google Now on?
Although Google Now is primarily an Android feature for both smartphones and tablets, the firm has made is available for iOS, too. In the same way in which you can get apps like Google Maps and Gmail for Apple products, Google Now is on the App Store for iPhones and iPads running iOS 7 or later.
On Android, you'll need a smartphone or tablet running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean or later for Google Now to work.
How to open and access Google Now
Google Now is part of the Google Search app which is likely to be installed on your Android device already. However, Google Now won't start showing you cards unless you opt into the service. To do this, tap on the Google search bar which is probably already on your homescreen and follow the instructions.
Once you've opted in, you can open Google Now by swiping upwards from the bottom of the screen and selecting the Google options (some phones have other items in this hidden menu).
Alternatively, you can install the Google Now launcher which is essentially the user interface from the Nexus 5 which puts the service one swipe away from the main homescreen. On iOS you're only option is to simply open the app.
What can Google Now show?
We've already talked about some of the cards which Google Now can show so let's take an in-depth look at everything which is currently on offer. We say currently as Google occasionally adds functionality.
Google splits the available cards into three categories: Daily management, Stay connected and Location. We'll look at all three below.
This section makes up core of Google Now and accounts for a large majority of the cards that it will show – although some require access to Gmail, calendar, Google , web history or location (or a combination) to work.
The most common card is weather which will show you the forecast for current location and work or home depending on where you are. Other core cards include traffic and events.
Here's a full list of the daily management cards which might pop up: Activity summary, next appointment, weather, traffic, flights, hotels, restaurant reservations, events, packages, friend's birthday and your birthday.
This section is about keeping you informed of the things you're interested in and includes sports, shares and research topics (pretty much anything you google). In the settings you can choose which ones you want to see and which teams you follow. If you don't want Google Now to spoil the score then make sure you adjust the settings for the sports cards.
As we mentioned earlier Google Now can provide you with information specific to where you are. If you switch location services on then you'll get cards detailing places (bars, restaurants etc), nearby attractions and nearby photo spots.
If you're abroad, it will also show you cards for translation, currency and the time back home.
How to use Google Now: Interaction, customisation and voice commands
We already explained how to open and access Google Now. So once you've open it, a vertical list of cards will be displayed which you can scroll though – pull down to refresh the list. Any card which you're done with can be removed by swiping it to either side.
All cards have three dots in the top right corner which you can click to inform Google Now if that card type or subject area is interesting to you. At the very bottom is also three dots which will take you to the main settings menu for Google Now.
However, tap the magic wand icon at the bottom to customise things like your important places, sports teams, stocks and other things. The remaining hand icon on the left is for reminders.
Google Now voice commands
As well as simply viewing the cards, customising them and swiping them away, you can interact with Google Now by voice. There's a search bar at the top which you can type in or hit the microphone icon to start a voice command.
Once you've activated a voice search, you can ask Google anything you like and you'll be given a list of search results in card form. Where appropriate and possible, you'll be shown an information card at the very top.
As well as regular web searches, you can use Google Now as an assistant a bit like Siri on the iPhone. You can ask it to do all kinds of things, most of which you probably didn't know about. Below is a list of things you can say:
• Open (eg. pcadvisor.co.uk, BBC iPlayer app)
• Take a picture/photo
• Record a video
• Set an alarm for…
• Set a timer for…
• Remind me to… (includes times and locations)
• Make a note
• Create a calendar event
• What is my schedule for tomorrow?
• Where's my package?
• Send email to…
• Post to…
• Where is the nearest…?
• Navigate to…
• Directions to…
• Where is…?
• Show me my flight info
• Where's my hotel?
• What are some attractions around here?
• How do you say [hello] in [Japanese]?
• What is [100 pounts] in [dollars]?
• What's the flight status of…?
• Play some music (opens "I'm feeling lucky" radio station in Google Play Music)
• Next Song / Pause Song
• Play/watch/read… (content must be in Google Play library)
• What's this song?
• Do a barrel roll
• Beam me up Scotty (audio response)
• Make me a sandwich (audio response)
• Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right (audio response)
• Who are you? (audio response)
• When am I? (audio response)