By Segun Oniyide
Google on Friday began rolling out a few new tricks on Android for its Google Search app, Shopping reminders for retail chains get a tweak so that you’re prompted to buy lemons, milk or whatever the next time you are at a Safeway, say, without worrying about the exact store you’ll stop by. Once you have set a reminder, a “‘Google Now” card will show up no matter which Safeway you end up in.
Music gets a couple of additions. In a Shazam-like feature, the search app will be able to recognize and identify songs heard on TV. Tap the mic in the search bar of the app and say “OK Google, listen to TV” to get the name and famous covers of a song. In a tie-in with American Idol, you’ll be able to cast Idol votes from within the app.
The update is available for devices running Android 4.1 or higher. No word on when the iOS version will get an update, though other features in the app are on par for users of Apple devices so it’s not a stretch to guess that the additions will arrive for them at some point.
Both Google and Apple (with its Siri app) are focusing hard on voice-recognition technology in a quest to make it a core part of how people use their smartphones to search for things when they are out and about.
The idea is that speaking a query into a phone is easier than stopping to type it into a small touch screen.
The tweaks that arrived Friday add to the increasing utility of the Google Now personal assistant component of the search app. The idea is that the app can sense the information you need and present it to you without asking, organized into simple “cards.”
In my daily life, that means I get reminders about bus route departure times, or driving times to my regular haunts. If you’re walking around a new neighborhood, Google Now will pop up cards with information about restaurants and coffee shops, for instance.
I’m not a cricket fan, but if I were, I’d be able to get live score updates just in time for a big tournament coming up in Bangladesh. Google added Cricket Support In Google Now as part of the Friday update.