We’ve all been there: you’ll be watching a movie when someone familiar enters the frame, and you just can’t place a name to the face. Well, if you’re watching said movie on an Android tablet, those days may soon be over. Google has just pushed out an update to its Play Movies & TV app lets users tap into the search giant’s Knowledge Graph as soon as they pause a flick.
Long story short, users who pause in the middle of a supported film or TV episode will be treated to “info cards” that display related information like related films and actor profiles. It sounds novel enough, but it’s really the little touches that seem the most impressive — tapping on a character’s face for instance prompts the app to identify the person’s face to populate the info card with the right actor info, and it’s even savvy enough to identify background music. Granted, this isn’t a strictly new concept (the Google Play Books app has been able to this for the past six months or so), but it’s certainly a welcome addition to the Google video fold.
A brief aside: for all the ink (digital and otherwise) spilt on the promise of tablets as an entertainment companion, this is easily one of the neater steps forward for mobile video that I’ve seen. Maybe it’s just me, but I hardly ever feel the compulsion to socially share my media consumption habits — well, beyond dropping the occasional Doctor Who reference in the TechCrunch backchannel that is. Other apps may focus on bringing those conversations to the fore, surfacing context-sensitive information in an unobtrusive way is a more substantive addition in my book.
Sadly, the scope of the feature is pretty limited for now — according to Google’s list those info cards will only appear in a about 192 movies (though its working to build out its library of supported titles), and even then the cards will only appear if you’re using the app on a tablet running Android 4.0 or later in the United States. Yeesh. Google eventually aims to roll out this feature on a wider scale, but there’s no word yet on when you trivia-hungry international types will be able to get in on the fun.