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2013

Google Now Gets New Widget, Makes It More Prominent On Phones

February 16, 2013 0

 

Mountain View, California – In a surprising turn of events, early this week Google announced that it has rolled out an update for search on Android that brings in fresh data, and adds sheeny new features to its spookily knowledgeable Google Now service that pushes it into the future with smartphones that are true assistants.

 

This latest update sets itself apart from its earlier version and puts the Google Now app front and center on users’ smartphones with numerous features as well as adds support for movie tickets from Fandango. Previously, users had to swipe upward on their smartphone screen to access Google Now, which works like a personal assistant by automatically generating “cards” with information based on a user’s location and activities.

A mobile app that gives Android users personalized information on the fly. The changes could help make the tool a bigger part of people’s daily lives. You can also add Google Now to your home and lock screen, if you are so inclined.

The update, for Android 4.1 and higher, which is now available in the UK Google Play store, provides you with a new Google Now widget that can reside on your home screen and cleverly display information relevant to you, without you having to search for it.

According to a Google executive, the latest Google Now update, available for devices running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean or higher, is intended to give users even “more of the information you need, at just the right time,” Google product management director Baris Gultekin said Wednesday in a blog post.

“Today, we are making Google Now even more useful by integrating new partners and making all your information even easier to access,” he said.

Android is all about widgets and customization, and with new partners that will now deliver users with movie ratings from Rotten Tomatoes and Fandango, and real estate information from Zillow database, especially when a house is listed on the markets and resides in that provider’s database.

In fact, with Fandango, for instance, the widget could remind a person when to leave for a movie theater, and pull up their tickets on arrival, Google said.

Google’s association with Zillow will provide nearby real estate listings. It will also pull up more info about a particular listing while you are visiting the property. Also, if you live in the United States, and use the app, you will now be provided with a music button a song is currently employed and the app is in voice mode.

Interestingly, bundling with many cool features, the update also brings those cards to the device’s home or lock screen so users do not have to open the app to see them, making Google Now function like a “widget,” Google said.

Also, cards give people handy information, related to whatever they might be doing at the time. That might include updated driving directions based on traffic conditions, or information about a flight delay or the latest score in a football game.

Additionally, this latest update puts three Google Now cards on the device’s home screen, and people can assign different levels of importance to different cards. So a change in traffic patterns might trump, say, a rise in a company’s stock price, pushing that information to the top of a person’s phone while hiding the stock quote.

Basically, Google Now was last updated in December to scan people’s Gmail inbox for boarding passes and suggest places to visit while traveling, among other changes. Those new functions were seen as rivals to the Passbook program in Apple’s iOS, which pulls boarding documents and other passes together into one place on the iPhone.

“When Google Now first launched last summer, we promised it was just the beginning, and it would continue to get better at delivering you more of the information you need, before you even ask,” Google’s Gultekin said in the blog post.

As a matter of fact, as promised by Google, this fresh update is a real time-saver, delivering the information you need where it is easiest to actually absorb.

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