Google wants you to be able to search anything and everything on your mobile device. Through a new feature called Now on Tap, individuals can perform instant searches inside apps.
A preview of the feature was unveiled during Google I/O 2015. Below covers how the new search functionality works and why it’s one of the most important features to come with Android M.
Search Results at your fingertips
Now on Tap allows users to take part in precise searches by pressing and holding down the home button at the bottom of the screen. This can be done from any Google-connected app (more on this later), which means you’ll never have to switch screens just to look for something online.
If you’re making plans for dinner with a friend through a messaging app, activating the new option will display a card with search results. In the case of dining reservations, the card might show the location of the restaurant that was mentioned in the conversation. Actionable apps such as OpenTable, Yelp and the stock phone dialer may also appear as suggestions.
It Will Guess What You’re Searching for, or at Least Try to
The search results are based on context. If you’re emailing someone about movie recommendations, performing a tap search will likely pull up ImDb, YouTube or Rotten Tomatoes.
The feature is designed to pinpoint exactly what you could be looking for at any given moment through accurate, educated guesses. It is important to note that you won’t find a manual search field on the card. Should a search fail to display relevant results, you’ll have to revert to the “Ok Google” method.
It’s still too early to tell how instant searches will handle loads of on-screen information. The samples that were shown during the Google I/O conference were very simple to decipher and did not provide insights on how it can boost productivity and work.
Google Now and Android M
Now on Tap is an update to the existing Google Now platform found in Android devices. It will come with the release of Android M in the coming months. The instant search feature will only be available for apps picked up by Google, which is basically any downloadable app found in the Google Play Store.
“This is another way developers can get their apps in front of their users at the right moment, when an app is relevant to the task at hand. And best of all, developers don’t need to do anything to integrate with Now on tap as long as they have their apps indexed by Google,” said Aparna Chennapragada, Director of Product Management at Google.
The demos currently floating around the mobile community are far from polished. Google may still add or remove various components before the official release.
Apple is reportedly working on its own version of Google Now, also equipped with similar Now on Tap functionality, called Proactive. The new tool is rumored to roll out with the iOS 9 platform at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June.