At its developer conference event I/O 2015, Google unveiled a new version of its mobile operating system Android M, a new payment system Android Pay, new Photos app, and Brillo operating system for IoT devices among other exciting developments. But one of the major highlights at the event was something else entirely. At the sidelines, the Mountain View-based technology giant announced a feature which aims to improve user experience by bringing search and context into their view regardless of the app they are using. It’s called Now on Tap.

Now on Tap 1

For years, Google has been trying to expand Now’s presence across different services and apps. Earlier this year, the company announced over three dozen services that now support Now, showcasing their content on one dashboard. But Google isn’t stopping there.

The new feature allows its Now service to always be active and listen to users and work regardless of the app they are using. As the company notes, Google Now is more prominently placed than ever — one tap away from hovering onto your app with suggestions. Interestingly, it doesn’t even require developers to implement this feature into their apps as it works automatically.

We’re working to make Google Now a little smarter in the upcoming Android M release, so you can ask it to assist you with whatever you’re doing—right in the moment, anywhere on your phone,” writes Aparna Chennapragada, Director of Product Management of Google Search. “With “Now on tap,” you can simply tap and hold the home button for assistance without having to leave what you’re doing—whether you’re in an app or on a website.

Tap on Now 2

This is a great addition to Now and it could completely change how we interact with different apps. For end users, it means they can tap on the home button and get their queries answered along with getting contextual information on top of any app they want. Imagine using Wynk Music app, and getting all the information about the song you’re listening to with just one tap on the home button, similarly on Uber, you can know everything about the place you’re headed to.

Google could utilize the mammoth of data and services support it has to cater more information to people. The company could, for instance, help someone looking for a doctor’s recommendation from his Facebook friends, get direction to that doctor’s clinic, and/or even quickly give an option to get a taxi to reach that place. The application of this integration is huge.

As Google and Facebook fight to get more users on board and build a walled garden to restrict them to their own bubbles, the Now on Tap feature could give Google a significant boost over its rivals.


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Author

Manish is pursuing a degree in Computer Science and Engineering but spends more time in writing about technology. He has written for a number of Indian and international publications including BetaNews, BGR India, WinBeta, MakeTechEasier, MediaNama, and Digit magazine among others. When not writing, you would find him ranting about the state of digital journalism on Twitter.