Google is expanding the capabilities of its clever mobile feature, “Google Now on Tap,” which offers additional information about what you’re looking at within a mobile application without having to exit and then perform a Google search. Before, the feature supported the ability to find restaurants and points of interest, learn more about songs or artists in music apps, get movie details and reviews, and find out more about celebs and other notable people being mentioned. Today, Google says that “Now on Tap” will also pull up flight status information, package tracking details, and surface related news articles.
The company is also introducing new sharing features and support for more languages.
In case you’re unfamiliar, “Now on Tap” was introduced earlier this year as one of the flagship features in the latest version of Android, aka Android Marshmallow. The idea with the feature is to extend Google’s search strategy on mobile by making it easier to use Google’s service without having to leave your current application.
Instead, by holding down the Home button on their device, mobile users are able to get more contextual information about what’s on their screen. That means if you were playing a song in Spotify, for example, you could press and hold the button to get more info about that song. You could also do a voice query, and ask questions like, “who is the lead singer?”
With the update, “Now on Tap” can also identify things like flight numbers and package tracking info. In practice, that will allow you to quickly check the status of a flight – like, say, right in your text messaging application where a friend just sent you their flight details – by pressing the Home button on your device.
You can also press the button while in an order confirmation email to track your package’s progress – handy, especially during this busy shopping season.
Another interesting addition, and one that stands out as something that’s going a bit further than offering “context” alone is the new “related articles” function. In fact, this is almost more like an alternative to searching Google for a given topic than just a way to learn more about what you’re currently viewing. Instead, when reading an article, you can press and hold your Home button to see a list of related articles appear on the same subject. You can then navigate to a new article with just a tap.
Plus, there’s now a new share icon that will allow you to share what’s on your screen without having to exit your application.
Google says this and the other features will roll out “over the coming days.” In other words, if you’re not yet seeing these things now, you will soon.
Also worth noting: “Now on Tap” has expanded beyond English to include support for French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian and Korean, the company says, with more languages planned for the future.
While “Now on Tap” is an interesting glimpse at the Google Search’s mobile future, unfortunately, the majority of users don’t have access to Android’s latest OS update, or “Now on Tap,” at this time. According to Google’s own data, Android Marshmallow is only installed on 0.5% of Android devices at present.