What is Google Now great for? How can I use it best?
June 28, 2015 8:18 PM   Subscribe

I've found that using Google Now can be waaaaay more efficient than typing things by hand: "OK Google, call restaurant." is much faster than searching for restaurantand then clicking on the linked number. However, I haven't any sense of the range of commands and integrations it supports. What are some of the best things for which to use Google Now? What should I install to get more out of it? How can I best turn my phone into the Star Trek computer?
posted by Going To Maine to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
 
Best answer: Neither of these is earth-shattering, but I use them frequently:

1) Google Calendar integration: you can easily add events to your calendar with this script. "Add to calendar: drop letters in mailbox at 2 pm on Sunday/July 22nd/today/tomorrow". I use my calendar extensively and this saves a lot of time.

2) Unit conversions. Speaking into Google Now basically performs a search if you don't hit any action keywords, so you can just speak your unit conversion and Google will answer: "how many ounces are in 2.6 pounds?"

You might just want to read the list of voice actions here: https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/2940021
posted by Tehhund at 8:52 PM on June 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


If you use gmail, Google now seems to notice any info about flights or accommodation that turns up in your inbox (even extracting from pdfs), and it will remind you about upcoming flights or accommodation.
posted by lollusc at 9:04 PM on June 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm rather scatterbrained, so I frequently make use time-based commands:

-"Remind me to call Jerry in 30 minutes"
-"Remind me to take out the garbage at 7:30 Thursday night"
-"Remind me to let the dogs out when I get home" (Actually uses GPS data and your home location as set in Google for the notification)
-"Set timer for X minutes"
-"Set an alarm for 9:30"
posted by EKStickland at 11:12 PM on June 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


When you're awake in the morning but not sure whether you need to open your eyes and get up yet: "Okay Google, what's the time?"
posted by themel at 11:42 PM on June 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


I use "what's this music" quite often as it's not easy to substitute a text search for that.
posted by crocomancer at 1:51 AM on June 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


"navigate home", "navigate to work" and "navigate to $PLACE" are things I do often, and it's very good at understanding local place names, including ones that I'm not sure myself how to pronounce!
posted by emilyw at 2:06 AM on June 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't remember where I copied these from; I've saved them in a txt file on desktop (with the hope/intention of voice-i-fying the home pc using Google Canary, though it's a clunky proposition at best at the moment for various reasons, imho).......

Find a movie: "What movies are playing tonight?" or "Where's Hunger Games playing?"
Find nearby places: "Where's the closest coffee shop?"
Find the time: "What time is it in London?"
Answer trivia questions: "Where was Albert Einstein born?" or "How old is Beyonce?"
Calculate the tip: "What's the tip for 42 dollars?"
Translate words or phrases: "How do you say cucumber in Spanish?"
Define a word: "What does gluttony mean?"
Convert between units: "What's 16 ounces in pounds?"
Solve a math problem: "What's the square root of 2209?"
Book a table: "Book a table for 2 at Cascal on Wednesday night."

-------------------------------------------------------
And the following items come from page 2 here:

Who is the CEO of Google?
What is the meaning of smartphone?
Show me the stocks for Sony.
What time is it in New York?
Will it rain tomorrow?
Show all hotels near me.
Go to Digital Trends.
What is 13 stones in kilograms?
Premier league table.
Play Blue Monday.
Wake me up in an hour.
Call Jenny.
Images of the Empire State Building.
When will BA 2215 land?
When is my next appointment?
Remind me to take out the trash when I get home.
Launch Google Plus.
Take a picture.
What’s this song?
posted by peacay at 2:11 AM on June 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


You don't have to ask it "what's this music" - just "Okay Google" and hold it up to the source - a little note icon pops up - just press it. You get the album cover and whether you want to buy it.
You can also ask it to do a barrel roll.
There's a list floating around but I'm sure it's being added to as we type.
posted by arzakh at 6:14 AM on June 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Define Haberdasher"
posted by mmascolino at 8:28 AM on June 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is extremely dumb but the number one thing I use Google's voice recognition for on my Moto X is asking it how tall actors are while watching TV. Like, just straight up: "How tall is Matthew McConaughey?" (6'0", in case you were wondering). No need to stop and remember how to spell "McConaughey". It also works with ages: "How old is Shohreh Aghdashloo?" (63!) It had no problem with these names although I think I might have gotten lucky with "Aghdashloo".
posted by mhum at 11:47 AM on June 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


I use Siri to ask for the current score in various sports, I'm assuming Google Now can do that too
posted by TwoWordReview at 12:20 PM on June 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


mhum's answer reminds me that there's a whole range of interesting things that Google Search can do, and since Google's voice recognition is basically a window into Google Search there are a ton of cool search tricks it can summon based on what you say. There are too many to list, but nearly any cool trick you can do with Google Search on the web will also work if you say it. For example, "stock quote Microsoft."

Also, it's unclear whether you are just referring to Google's voice commands or also to the Google Now interface, which is a series of informational cards (Google does a poor job of establishing what is Google Now and what is not). But if you're interested in all the cards here's a list: https://www.google.com/landing/now/#cards
posted by Tehhund at 12:31 PM on June 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


One side effect I didn't really expect is that it's completely overtaken the need for a separate calendar app. It's close to killing the need for a contacts list app as well ("What's Jean's home address?").
posted by bonehead at 12:33 PM on June 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: lso, it's unclear whether you are just referring to Google's voice commands or also to the Google Now interface, which is a series of informational cards (Google does a poor job of establishing what is Google Now and what is not). But if you're interested in all the cards here's a list: https://www.google.com/landing/now/#cards

Just to clarify: I'm interested in the voice commands; my experience with the cards so far has been that they are kind of creepily close-but-not-quite-right for me. Thanks for all the answers, though! They've been great.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:20 PM on June 29, 2015


> they are kind of creepily close-but-not-quite-right for me.

That is the deal with Google Now, and the key to making it work: for you Google looks deep into your entire contact with all of their services, including all the apps, contact info, phone dialer, device location, browsing activity, etc.. They then compile a history of that and build a profile of what they think it would be helpful for you to know. That's what informs the choices of the cards. If you want to best benefit from Now, that's what you have to accept.

This is how Google's traffic information works apparently: information aggregated (at least partially) from the real-time routes taken by folks with Android phones on their person.
posted by bonehead at 2:27 PM on June 29, 2015


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