If you have an phone or tablet running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean with Search installed, you have Google Now on your device. Google Now works in unison with your Gmail account, search history and location to present information that’s relevant to you. There are a number of ways to improve the results and to access the service. Here’s how to set up Google Now on Android.
Your device must be running Android 4.1 or greater.
When you first get a new device or update, you’ll see the familiar Google Search bar that purveys most Android home screens. The first time you access the search, you’ll be asked if you would to like to Discover Google Now. The description is spot on, “Information when you need it – without searching”. Next you’ll see an idea of what you can expect from Google Now in a series of informational cards. Continue to swipe through until you get to the Get Google Now screen.
In order for Google Now to perform its magic, you need to authorize Google to do the following:
Use and store your information periodically for traffic alerts, directions and more.
Use your synced calendars, Gmail, and Google data for reminders and other suggestions.
Tip: If you are a tin foil hat sort of person, Google Now probably isn’t for you.
How To Use Google Now
The beauty of Google Now is that it is truly a hands-free service. During my initial set up, Google was able to find a number of recent orders I had placed and provided shipment details. The Nexus 4 from the Google Play Store was easy, but they also managed to offer tracking for a Nexus 4 screen protector that I ordered from eBay. If I had a flight booked, this is the sort of information that Google can easily pluck from your inbox and provide you with the pertinent details in a beautiful looking card.
Other Google Now Categories
- Traffic: Shown before commute or after a local search
- Weather: Shows upcoming weather information based on your location
- Public Transport: Shows when you are near public transportation
- Flights: Will pull flight information based on a recent search or flight data retrieved from your Gmail account.
- Sports: Shows local sports teams and teams that you have searched.
- Next Appointment: Shows you next appointment based on your Google calendar, with travel time.
- Translation: If you are traveling out of the country, this card can help you with translation.
- Currency: Another useful traveling tool, you can check conversion rates.
- Packages: Let’s you know when a package has been shipped, with quick access to the email attached to the shipment.
Google Now will learn based upon your searching and activities. As cards no longer become relevant, they are automatically removed. You can manually remove them by swiping the card right.
Accessing Google Now
Google Now can be accessed in a number of ways.
- From the lock screen, you’ll see a small circular icon. Drag that up to the lock screen to enter Google Now.
- If you have the Google Search bar on your home screen, tap in the box to reveal the latest cards. You can either continue with your search or scroll down to view cards from Google Now.
- From the home screen, press and hold on the home button. A semi-circle with the Google icon will appear and you can swipe up to enter Now.
Customizing Your Google Now Experience
You’ve agreed the their terms and Google Now has started to populate your Android device with cards. Each card has a settings feature, with some allowing for a more customizable experience. Tap on the vertical row of three dots at the right of each card to access Settings for this card. This is particular useful when setting your work address, so Google can keep you up to date on traffic and travel times.
Google Now has an extensive settings menu.
- Scroll to the bottom of Google Now
- Tap on the vertical row of three dots.
- Tap on Settings
- Tap on Google Now
It’s here that you can see in plain language how Google Now is configured on your phone or tablet. The first group provides all of the cards and their associated settings. If you scroll down, you can enable or disable cards based on Gmail.
If you scroll even further, you can set up a ringtone for notifications as well as toggle the vibrate option on or off.
Google Now is wonderful, incredibly intelligent and intuitive feature. If you have an Android phone or tablet capable of running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, this is certainly an upgrade worthy feature. Using the tips outlined above, setting up Google Now on Android device is more about allowing access to your data and providing Google with tips on how to improve results. Once enabled and properly set up to your liking, Google Now will continue to act as a helpful assistant, consistently providing you with useful information when you need it most.