Skip to main content

Google’s Now on Tap feature gets a text select and image search update

Google’s Now on Tap feature gets a text select and image search update

Share this story

Google's Now on Tap feature is finally getting the upgrade it always needed. Now on Tap debuted at last year's I/O conference as part of Android 6.0 Marshmallow, and was designed to give the user Google Search data within whatever app they happened to be using. It promised to be Marshmallow's killer feature, but because of inaccuracies and general inconsistency, it never quite took off. Google hopes to fix that with a new update to Now on Tap, letting you select exactly what you want information on, and even letting you do searches on images from within the camera app.

"Select exactly what you want help with and get the right information"

In today's blog post, product manager Aneto Okonkwo explains that the new update, which launches today, takes Now on Tap a step further by adding more control. "If you use Now on Tap in an app, email, chat, or news article with a lot of text," he writes, "sometimes the results aren’t as precise as you’d like. Starting today, you can give Google a nudge by selecting exactly what you want help with, and you’ll get the right information, right away."

That means, if you select a specific word before activating Now on Tap, you'll get a far more precise response. That's already a marked improvement over the last iteration of the feature; users who opened Now on Tap on the same screen might have gotten vastly different responses for no clear reason. It's a frustrating flaw, but that should happen much less often with this update.

What might be the most exciting part of the update is image search. By opening Now on Tap on an image, search will pull up cards showing what you're looking at. The same applies to what's visible in the camera app; without needing to take a shot, Now on Tap is able to pull up cards of what your shooter is picking up. Google has already demonstrated similar image recognition in its new chat app Allo, so it's exciting to see similar functionality here.

Runs on Marshmallow and Android N

Aneto says that the new update is available today, and the features work on both Marshmallow and Android N. Now on Tap continues to be one of Android's more exciting features. Now — at least for people running the latest Google software — it has the chance to be a great deal more useful.

Hands-on with Google Now On Tap