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Google adds quick and useful home screen shortcuts to Now on Tap

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Android's underused assistant gets an upgrade

Google's Now on Tap feature may have been eclipsed by its more recent artificial intelligence efforts, but the company continues to test new add-ons and tweaks to make it more useful. Now, users with the 6.0 beta version of the official Google app can activate Now on Tap from the Android home screen or app launcher to get new shortcuts, according to 9to5Google. These shortcuts will let users create reminders, set alarms, and navigate to saved locations like home or work. Previously, activating Now on Tap on the home screen wouldn't let you do anything but navigate to Google Now.

Now on Tap, released as part of last year's Marshmallow update, is designed to bring the predictive and contextual features of Google Now to any Android app. It works by simply holding down the device's home button, which offers search suggestions to get more information and direct links to other apps. Yet its inconsistency across Android and general wonkiness have kept it from being the killer feature of Marshmallow we thought it would be.

Now on Tap isn't going away any time soon

Today's update doesn't mark a substantial change, but it does mean Google Now is not going to fade away even as the company preps Assistant, its conversational AI built into the upcoming Allo messaging app, and the new Google Home speaker. Just last week, Google added text and image search in a Now on Tap update. That way, users can get much more precise recommendations and links by selecting exactly what they'd like Google's software to hone in on.


HANDS-ON WITH GOOGLE NOW ON TAP