6 Google Now Features That Will Change How You Search

Andre Infante 29-08-2014

Google Now, Google’s less sassy but arguably more useful answer to Siri, is a handy little piece of software. Once you have it, you find yourself depending on it in surprising ways. You can use it to find showtimes, search by voice, set reminders to yourself OK, Google: 20 Useful Things You Can Say to Your Android Phone Google Assistant can help you get a lot done on your phone. Here are a whole bunch of basic but useful OK Google commands to try. Read More , and much more.


But if that’s all you use Google Now for, that’s a shame, because there’s a lot of cool little features squirreled away in Google Now that you can get a lot of mileage out of. Use them for practical purposes, or just to boost your power-user street cred. Today we’ll be counting down five handy Google Now utilities that’ll change the way you use your phone.

Have A DJ And Personal Music Dictionary


If you don’t have earbuds with a microphone, consider picking some up, it makes this one a lot more useful. Next time you want to hear a song, all you have to do is ask:

“Ok Google, play Spotify.”

“Ok Google, play Tainted Love.”

Alternately, if you’re listening to a song on the radio somewhere and want to know what it is, you can access a Shazaam-like feature Discover New Music & What It's Actually Called With Shazam [Android & iOS] Music is one of the great forces that can bring people from all walks of life together. Most of us love at least one genre of music, and we tend to get along with those... Read More that allows you to identify songs via the microphone, simply by asking. Also, if you don’t want to ask, you can press the voice command button and wait for a small blue music icon to appear below it.

“Ok Google, what song is this?”

These tools are great for when you’re on the go and want to use your phone hands free, and are great for jogging, cycling, and other outdoor sports.


Have A Built-in Calculator And Converter


Next time you’re in a restaurant, and you want to figure out percentages, just ask!

“Ok Google, what’s the tip for $150?”

Vacationing in a foreign country, and you want to know how much something costs in US dollars?

“Ok Google, what’s ten dollars in Japanese Yen?”

Or maybe you’re just trying to cook a potion from the ancient, leather-bound, possibly-haunted book you found in the attic, and aren’t sure what the units mean. Google Now to the rescue!


“Ok Google, how many teaspoons in a hogshead?”

Automate Your Stalking Of Public Figures


Google can parse pronouns when you provide context, which allows you to chain queries together in a really useful way.  For example:

“Ok Google, pictures of Bill Murray.”

“Ok Google, is he married?”

“Ok Google, what movies has he been in?”

“Ok Google, what’s the Bacon number of Bill Murray?”

This feature is also handy for other things — if you ask about, say, the weather in Hoboken, it can do that, and then will interpret future queries on the assumption that you’re still talking about New Jersey.

Answer Idle Curiosities

google now lookup
Sometimes you want to quickly get a short explanation of something, but don’t feel like actually looking into it or asking someone. In that case, you can just ask Google. Since you can chain queries together, this allows you go through your aimless Wikipedia trawls in a sci-fi, Star-Trek computer sort of way.


“Ok Google, who was Grace Hopper?”

“Ok Google, what’s FORTRAN?”

“Ok Google, what’s a race condition?”

Google automatically scrapes these summaries from reputable online authorities like Wikipedia, automatically cutting out the snippets that best explain the topic in a general context.

Streamline Your Travel Experience


Google Now is a traveler’s best friend. If you get your order confirmation through Gmail, Google Now will automatically track your flights and provide you with up to date information on them as you get ready to depart.

What’s maybe more useful, though, is your ability to use Google now as an always-on traveler’s dictionary of useful phrases. Google can intelligently take phrases, translate them into a variety of languages, and then pronounce them for you at the tap of a button, which is indispensable when trying to navigate in places where you don’t speak the language.  The translations aren’t perfect, but they’re good enough for most practical purposes.


“Ok Google, say in Spanish, ‘Where is the bathroom?'”

“Ok Google, say in Spanish, ‘I’m sorry officer.'”

“Ok Google, say in Spanish, ‘I’ve never seen that before in my life.'”

“Ok Google, say in Spanish, ‘I want to go to the American embassy.'”

Use Google Now from Anywhere


With the latest update, it’s now possible to access Google Now from any screen, including from within other apps.

To activate this feature, just update the Google Search app in the Play Store, and then go to Settings >Language & Input >Voice Search >”Ok Google” Detection and select which situations you want the functionality available (note that enabling it from the lockscreen can compromise the security of your device if you have a PIN or password lock enabled).

This feature just came out in the most recent update, and is crazy useful for Google Now power users — or anyone who wants to operate their device hands-free.

What Are Your Favorite Google Now Features?

All of these features are just the start. Google Now is a great application with a lot of easter eggs and genuine functionality, and Google’s been unrolling more stuff with every update Google Now Knows Where You Parked, Gets Offline Cards, And More The Android Google Search app has been updated, and tucked inside it are some pretty awesome tweaks to Google Now that add quite a bit of usefulness to Google's personal assistant. Read More . Now it can easily go head to head with Siri 8 Things You Probably Didn’t Realize Siri Could Do Siri has become one of the iPhone’s defining features, but for many people, it’s not always the most useful. While some of this is due to the limitations of voice recognition, the oddity of using... Read More and Microsoft’s Cortana Cortana Talks Back: Laugh, Cry & Love With Windows Phone's Digital Assistant Bored with no one to talk to? Why not strike up a conversation with your Windows Phone? These cues will make Cortana talk. Read More on features, and is a clever product in its own right.

The idea of trying to build an AI assistant that tries to make itself invisible (rather than aiming to dazzle with its ability to talk to you) is a really clever idea, and one that will probably come to dominate the market in the future.

Got any cool Google Now tricks that we didn’t mention?  Let us know in the comments!

Related topics: Google, Google Apps, Google Search.

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  1. -Sx-
    December 24, 2017 at 3:47 pm

    welcome 2018! No, I'm using this ... and I don't have anything Apple; thank god...

    Phones should be quiet but work :P ... call me old fashioned.

  2. Anonymous
    April 30, 2016 at 4:22 pm

    Doesn't work for me. Although I like the features, it uses way too much battery.

  3. Haris Gulzar
    November 13, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    First of all, I didn't understand the comment made by Keith. Could you kindly explain it again.
    Secondly, I have a dual sim phone. The "send text to .." feature works perfectly fine but it doesn't ask which sim to use for sending out sms, although my Sim settings are set to always ask before sending out text messages. If I send them without using google now, it asks me which sim to use. What could be wrong? I'm using android 4.2.2 from Pakistan.

  4. Keith
    September 12, 2014 at 3:49 am

    This article is like every service rep I've found: it is completely unaware that Google Now and Google Search are two separate apps. They can work together; they can also conflict with each other, causing problems. I have Google Now (touchless control in settings) turned on, but Google Search voice off. Google Now works off a black screen until/unless it diverts to Google Search which is a white screen and different voice. Be aware that they are different apps with a tricky relationship.

    • ???? ??? ??????
      September 22, 2014 at 5:11 pm
  5. Sagar Shah
    September 8, 2014 at 11:18 pm

    For those whom Google Now does not work, install google now experience launcher.

    It works for a few more languages and outside U.S. too.

  6. greg
    September 3, 2014 at 1:36 am

    Doesnt work on Moto X... Will it work fully on MotoX in the future?

  7. john
    September 2, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    Anyone get the gratuity command to work? If I ask "whats the tip for etc etc".. nothing happens? Thanx.

    • JE
      September 12, 2014 at 9:39 pm

      mine worked. say "tip amount for 150 dollars" It should come up with a tip thing, what % and how many people its being split by,

  8. Mike
    September 1, 2014 at 5:55 am

    Google translate is not perfect but it's a pretty remarkable free service. It gets a large number of Russian to English translations correct (my wife vouches for it).

    Google Now is truly awesome and addictive.

    One thing this article doesn't make clear is that you don't need to say "Ok Google" if you are searching from the Google search bar or are already inside the cards view.

  9. Guillermo
    August 31, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    The translations in Spanish that appear on the screenshots are quite bad! That's what I hate of Google: its translator

  10. Dave
    August 31, 2014 at 6:03 am

    Did this article forget to mention that Google is an American company, started in America, by Americans? Are you also upset that cars don't fly yet? Back to back World War champs!

    • Troy
      August 31, 2014 at 12:05 pm

      My thoughts exactly, Dave. Add to it that Make Use Of is an American website.

  11. Sean
    August 30, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    Yeah, this article should have opened with, my fellow Americans.

    • odap
      August 30, 2014 at 10:13 pm


    • Dave
      May 2, 2015 at 3:16 am

      Sure, and we'll all speak Esperanto. Shall I bitch because Sigur Ros doesn't perform in American? There is nothing stopping anyone on this thread from creating their own services in their own language in their own country. You can even ruthlessly exploit your fellow citizen's private data. Christ, and I though Americans were whiny....

  12. Vipul J
    August 30, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    I myself have disabled GNow using Titanium Backup, because the location settings utilized in this app have a huge impact on the battery life. Also because everything I can do in this I can do in my browser.
    As for the voice functions, apparently only native English speakers have a use for it. No other accents are acceptable regardless of correct pronunciations (Indian, in my case)

  13. Pat
    August 30, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    Even in English, many of the functions do not work outside of the US. The music search simply does not function in Canada, while Shazam and Soundhound work fine here.

    I remember when the net was new and we thought it eliminate borders...

  14. MrX
    August 29, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    None are my favorite, since none of them work in Sweden without talking english.