Flashback to a year and a half ago during Google I/O 2012 where Android 4.1 Jelly Bean was announced. Jelly Bean included several improvements over its predecessor, Ice Cream Sandwich, but the real star of the show was Google’s new voice assistant hub for mobile, Google Now. With Siri filling the role of the novelty voice assistant that was actually useful, everybody was left waiting for El Goog to release a competitor. And with Google Now, those expectations were exceeded.
Google Now became more than just a voice assistant to rival Siri, it became a hub for a virtual assistant. The voice commands were useful, but the core feature was the inclusion of cards that provided information based on things such as time, location and a whole lot more. But without knowing some of the better features of Google Now, it could remain useless. In that case, we created this list of ten practical uses for Google Now. Enjoy. Get out there and use Google Now even more.
We don’t mean literally cooking your phone. Putting it in the microwave will not charge the battery. We’re talking about finding recipes and all that jazz. Confession of the day: I like to cook. And generally when I cook, I’m almost always trying something new, so I’m often working from a recipe on my phone. More than that though, I’m constantly using Google Now to hands-free search tips on ingredients, convert measurements and most importantly, figure out how to fix a mess that I created.
Planning your commute
One of the great features about Google Now is that it’s contextually aware. With your permission, it researches all sorts of things about you and learns from them. For example, places you frequently travel to and when you travel to them. Once you set addresses for things like home, work, your favorite coffee shop and more, Google Now will let you know how long it’s going to take to get there. For example, on a normal day, it might take me about 16 minutes to get to school or work in the morning. But if there’s some snow or a car accident, Google Now will let me know that it’s going to take closer to 21 minutes to get there. It may not seem like much, but it saves you a bit of hassle. Being late can throw off your whole day.
Keeping up with flights
Most of us have, at one time or another, had to pick up someone from the airport. But airline delays happen frequently. If you have to drive a distance to the airport, then it’s nice to know if there will be delays on the flights. Google Now can track flights for you and give you info on delays and when the flights are estimated arrival times.
On that same note, Google Now can be useful when you’re getting ready to go on a flight. By checking your e-mail, Google Now can find your boarding pass and have it ready to display on your phone for the gate attendants to scan. Airports are stressful enough; Google Now can take some of the guesswork out of it.
Helping when you’re abroad
Now that we’ve talked about the before and after traveling things, what about that time when you’re actually at your destination? Google Now can be very handy there. Let’s say you’re vacationing in a foreign country where a different language is spoken. Google Now will automatically come up with a bunch of good cards for you. Time conversions compared to your home, currency conversions, a Google Translate card with pre-programmed common phrases and the ability to type in other things, restaurant suggestions and lists of events in the area that you may be interested in. It’s a whole menagerie of usefulness.
Tracking your packages
If Google Now has access to read through your Gmail account, it can find tracking information for all of your packages. It can then give you a card with your tracking info and give you the estimated delivery date for when it’ll arrive. It can even give you a reminder on the day that your package is supposed to arrive to let you know that your package is out for delivery. Quite useful in a situation where you have to sign for receipt.
Miss a game? Need to keep up-to-date with multiple sports teams? Google Now will keep you in the loop with automated cards that highlight scores and upcoming games. So go out there and conquer those water cooler chats, Mr. Sports Guy, you.
Possibly my most-used features in Google Now. The reminder and alarm features. I use these several times a day because… for reasons, I forget. Simply tell Google Now to set a reminder to do something, like go grocery shopping or take down the Christmas tree. In case you need a more persistent reminder, or simply want your phone to beep loudly at you, all you have to do is tell Google to set an alarm for a specific time.
Watching your stocks
If you’re actively involved in the stock market, then Google Now can show you the ups and downs. Simply enter in the stocks you want Google Now to watch, and Google will give you a stocks card with those options displayed on it. The stock card updates itself periodically throughout the day, and even if you swipe it away, will come back when it’s next updated. You’re always kept updated on how your stocks are performing.
Admit it, we’ve all forgotten about someone’s birthday at one time or another. But Google Now wants to help stop that. If you’re friends with someone on Google+, or they’re a Gmail contact and have their birthday listed, Google will give you a little reminder to wish them happy birthday when the big day hits.
Looking up facts
And finally the most useful one of all. Lest we forget, Google is still a search company. With Google Now, it’s quick and easy to search with hands-free voice assistance. Just say, “Ok, Google.” We take it for granted often, but when you need to something–be it an address or random bit of trivia–Google Now Search can come in handy.
There you have it, ten practical uses for Google Now. Some of them you may use quite frequently, while others you may have never considered. In either case, we hope that this helps you to find new uses for Google Now. And on that note, we’d love to hear how you guys use it. Hit up the comments below with your most common uses for Google Now.