Google is looking to expand the functionality of its sophisticated digital assistant Google Now.
A new functionality called Now on Tap, announced Thursday at Google’s annual I/O developers conference, will bring Now’s context-sensitive information and suggestions to many of the apps users commonly open on their Android devices.
Google showed off the versatility of Now on Tap in a series of demos. While listening to Skrillex in a music player, a Googler asked, “OK Google, what’s his real name?” and Now on Tap was able to use the context of the open app to immediately recognize that the user was referring to Skrillex and serve the correct answer (Sonny John Moore). In another example, when a person received a series of text messages suggesting dinner at a nearby restaurant and a request to pick up drying cleaning, Now on Tap was able to scan the contents of the messages to pull up info about the restaurant and offer to set a reminder about a dry cleaning. In a third example, as a user was reading an email that mentioned the movie Tomorrowland, they were able to bring up an info card with the movie’s trailers, review scores and cast list immediately available by simply pressing the phone’s home button.
Google Now has quickly become a large focus of the search giant, as it leverages many of the company’s strengths (trawling the web for facts and providing accurate navigation info, for instance) to create a streamlined user experience. Apple is rumored to be working on a similar service, code-named Proactive.