Google Now Use
There’s been a fair bit of confusion about what Google Now really is. It’s easy to describe it as Google’s version of Siri, but it’s actually a lot more ambitious than that. Sure, you can use it to set reminders to buy milk or have dinner with friends, and you can ask it basic questions about the weather tomorrow or who directed The Shining, but the real attraction lies in its abilities to preempt your desires and needs.
If you let Google Now learn about you and your habits, then it can throw up information that it thinks you might be interested in. News, sports scores, weather, and traffic information is served up in real time based on your previous movements and searches. Information is served up in the form of cards, which you can tap for more detail or swipe away to ignore. When it works, Google Now can give you what you want before you even know you want it. When Android M comes along, it will be even more scarily accurate.
How to Set Up Google Now
You won’t get great results unless you set Google Now up with all the information it needs. This will involve some trust on your part. For heavy users of Google services it won’t be an issue, but anyone with privacy concerns is liable to think twice. Google Now is built into Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and above, and can be downloaded on Windows Phone. You can also now get it as a free iOS app (it’s part of the Google Search app).
It’s worth spending some time in the settings before you start to use Google Now. On Android, you’ll probably have a Google search bar on your home screen and you can tap it to bring up Google Now, or you can select Google from the app drawer. You’ll also be able to hold down the Home button or swipe up from the Home button to quickly select Google Now. If you have a Nexus 5 or you install the Google Now Launcher then you can simply say, “Ok Google,” on your home screen to bring it to life, or swipe from left to right.
On iOS you’ll want to open the Google Search app. You should be asked to set it up the first time you use it, but you can return to the app and enter settings whenever you like, in order to tweak things. Bring Google Now to life, and you’ll find the menu at the top left. Tap the three horizontal lines and choose Settings. You can turn Google Now on and off in here, and you can fine tune how it behaves. The more data you allow it to access, the better it will perform.
In Accounts & Privacy, you can set nicknames, Web history, and more. You can decide how the Voice settings should work, including the “Ok Google” hotword detection. You have the option to dictate what Phone search covers. In Now cards, you can check your card history, delete your preferences, and decide if you want notification alerts.
Customizing Google Now
Open up the menu, via the three horizontal lines at the top left, and choose Customize, which is accompanied by the magic wand icon. You can choose sports teams and stocks that you are interested in. You can also set places, such as your home and workplace. If you live in a supported country, then you can choose TV & Video to set your TV and Video on demand providers, and get recommendations about movies and TV shows. If you go into Everything Else you’ll find options about website updates, preferences for units of temperature, weather updates, and a few other bits and pieces.
The data contained in Google Now will be collected automatically as you use your various Google services. A quicker way to edit your Google Now preferences is to tap the menu icon (three vertical dots) at the top right of every card that appears and answer the questions that pop up.
If you want to check up on any reminders you have set, then open the menu again and choose Reminders at the top. It’s marked by an icon of an outstretched finger. You can add details to reminders here, delete old ones, or add new ones. When you add a new reminder you can choose to be reminded at a specific time, or you can choose to be reminded when you reach a specific location.
List of Google Now Commands
You pick up your phone and say “OK Google”... and then what? Your phone is listening. The microphone icon is pulsing. What do you say to your phone? What can you say to it? Google Now’s voice function has become surprisingly robust over the years.
Here’s a list of just about everything you can say to Google Now. Try experimenting with different phrasing, you’ll be surprised how much it understands. The part of the phrase in [brackets] can be replaced with any similar term you choose. If Google Now doesn’t get your spoken commands right, you can correct it by saying “No, I said...” and trying the phrase again.
If your phone runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow, Google settings are now found in the Settings menu, not in the app drawer. If you’re lazy to scroll this list, you can also access a list of voice commands on your phone by tapping the mic and saying "show me what you got". Google Now is the best virtual assistant you can get.
- How old is [Neil deGrasse Tyson]?
- Where was [Louis C.K.] born?
- Search for [chicken recipes]
- What is the meaning of [life]?
- Define [colloquial] (Or “What does [colloquial] mean?”)
- What time is it in [Tokyo]?
- Show me pictures of [the Leaning Tower of Pisa]
- When is the sunset [in Chicago (optional)]
- Do I need an umbrella today? What’s the weather like? What’s the weather in [New Orleans] [this weekend]?
- What is the time zone of [Berlin]
- Time at home
- What the [Google] stock price? What is [Apple] trading at?
- What’s [182 yards] in [miles]? What is [12 ounces] in [liters]?
- Who invented [the internet]?
- What’s  divided by [7.5]? (A great many types of math equations will work.)
- Search [Tumblr] for [cat pictures] (more apps are added to this search-within-apps function all the time)
- Author of [Game of Thrones]
- Open [astrologyk.com]
- Take a picture (“Take a photo” also works)
- Record a video
- Go to [Huffington Post]
- Turn [on/off] [Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Flashlight]
- What’s the tip for [120 dollars]?
- Wake me up in [5 hours]
- Set an alarm for [6:30 am]
- Set a timer for [20 minutes]
- Convert [currency / length …] to [currency / length …]
- Create a calendar event: [Dinner with Glenda] [Saturday at 9 PM]
- Remind me to [buy milk] at [7 AM] (try locations! Remind me to [buy coffee filters at Walgreens])
- Where’s my package? (tracking confirmation must be in Gmail)
- Remind me [when I get / next time I’m at] [home/work/other location] [to send an email to John]
- What is my schedule for tomorrow? (also: What does my day look like [Friday]?)
- Make a note: [update my router firmware] (also try “Note to self:” This works with multiple apps, and you can even email yourself!)
- Find [Florence Ion’s] [phone number] (Works with all info in your contacts - addresses, birthdays, etc.)
- Show me my bills. (or: My bills due this week.)
- Show me my last messages. (Then follow voice prompts)
- Call [Daniel] (also works with relationships: Call [mum / dad / wife / uncle / sister])
- Call [Cartman] on speakerphone
- Text [Susie] [great job on that feature yesterday] (also works with relationships: Text [mom] [I’m not going to be able to pick you up from the airport, period, I’m a bad son, period])
- Post to Google+ [feeling great]
- Send [email] to [Robert Baratheon], subject, [hunting], message, [I don’t think you should drink so much when you go hunting, period]
- Post to [Twitter]: [Oh my god the Red Wedding episode!]
- What is French for [I am Charlie]?
- [Send a Hangout message] to [Dad].
- Send a [Viber] message to [Derek]: Hang on, I’m going to get more coffee. (works with WhatsApp, Viber, WeChat, Telegram, and NextPlus)
Navigation and Travel
- Where is the nearest [sushi restauraunt]?
- Navigate to [Willis Tower, Chicago]
- Directions to [Fisherman’s Wharf] by [bike] (also try “Directions home” or “How do I get home?”)
- Where is [the Louvre]?
- Map of [Flagstaff]
- Show me the menu for [Green Chile Kitchen]
- Call [Asian Art Museum]
- What’s the flight status of [United] flight ?
- Say [good night] in [Spanish]?
- Show me my flight info
- Where’s my hotel?
- Is it going to rain [tomorrow / Monday]
- What are some attractions around here?
- What’s the weather in [Boston]?
- How’s the weather in [Portland] on [Wednesday] going to be?
- What is [50,000 yen] in [dollars]?
- How far is [Berlin] from [Munich]?
- Show me restauraunts near my hotel -or- Give me directions back to my hotel (this works if your hotel confirmation was sent to your gmail account)
- Get the latest news, trends, apps, and tips for your Android phone.
- Get our Greenbot download newsletter
- Play some music (opens “I’m feeling lucky” radio station in Google Play Music)
- Next Song / Pause Song
- Play [Happy] (songs must be in Google Play Music on your device)
- What songs does [Pharrell] sing?
- Watch [The Lego Movie] (movies and TV must be in your Google Play account)
- What’s this song?
- Listen to TV
- Runtime of [Avatar]
- Read [Hunger Games]
- Show me the [Premier League] table
- Did the [Giants] win today? What’s the score in the [Warriors] game?
- What movies are playing [tonight]? Where is [Toy Story] playing?
Fun hidden stuff
Many of these deliver funny voice responses, but normal search results. Turn up your sound!
- Flip a coin
- Roll dice (rolls a single six-sided die)
- What is the loneliest number?
- Okay Jarvis, … (Instead of “Okay Google, …)
- Do a barrel roll!
- Askew / Tilt
- Go go Gadget [App name]
- When am I?
- Make me a sandwich
- Sudo make me a sandwich
- Who’s on first?
- Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right
- Tell me a joke
- Who are you?
- How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood.
- Beam me up, Scotty!
- What is [Jennifer Lawrence’s] Bacon number?
- What is your favorite color?
- What does the fox say?
Google Now Tricks
One of the things that I’ve missed most about Android since switching to iOS has been Google Now, the insanely useful tool that gives me the most important information of the day when I need it. So while I’m still using lots of Google apps on the iPhone 6s, there’s nothing to really make them all work together as a cohesive service like there is on Android.
For those of you who still are using Google Now, however, I’ve put together a list of five terrific tricks that you may not know about to help you get even more out of this fantastic service. Let’s check them out below! Note: Some of these features have been added to recent updates of Google Now so if you’re still running older software, you might not have access to them.
Set Google Now to automatically recognize multiple languages: If you’re a multilingual person, you can add different languages that you want the service to recognize automatically. Just open up Settings, then go to Voice, then Languages and check all the languages that apply. This way Google Now will be able to automatically deliver search results in English, Spanish, French, etc. depending on the language you’re using.
Have Google Now play any song instantaneously from YouTube: Open Google now and instruct it to play a song — for instance, say “Play ‘Hello’ by Adele.” If you tell Google Now to play it in YouTube, it will become the default option so you can just tell it to play any song you want and it will pop up on YouTube.
Quickly search for apps on your device by long pressing on the App Drawer in Google Now Launcher: This is pretty basic: Just long press on the app drawer icon on your home screen and it will give you a search prompt that will let you type in the name of the app you’d like to find.
Have Google Now read out your text messages for you: Use the command “Show me my text messages” in Google Now and it will read unread texts out loud to you. It also gives you the option to skip text messages and to search for a text from a specific contact to read as well.
Google Now can warn you of inclement weather ahead of time: Sure, we all know Google Now can tell you the current temperature. However, as you can see in this screenshot, it can also alert you when bad weather is expected in the coming days so you’ll be able to know whether or not to plan that picnic.