Google's personal assistant gets smarter with 'Now on Tap'

Updates take advantage of deeper context understanding to help users

Aparna Chennapragada at Google I/O 2015

Aparna Chennapragada at Google I/O 2015

Google Now is getting new capabilities with a new "Now on Tap" update that should make it easier to find contextually-relevant information.

The update uses machine learning to people find information more quickly based on the context of what they're doing on their Android phone. Case in point: if a person gets an invite to a restaurant in the Viber chat app, they can press and hold the phone's home button to get a link to OpenTable to place a reservation or view the restaurant's menu.

Similarly, users will be able to get information more easily about the music they're listening to, without having to spell out an entire query. Google Now Product Director Aparna Chennapragada showed how you could be listening to Skrillex and ask "What's his real name?" and the assistant will pull up the artist's biography. (Incidentally, his name is Sonny John Moore.)

The enhancements come at a time when the digital assistant market is becoming more competitive. Microsoft is bringing its Bing-powered assistant Cortana to PCs and tablets with the launch of Windows 10 later this year, and Apple is rumored to be working on Google Now-like features for Siri.

It's not clear when the new capabilities will arrive, but they'll be coming to Android M, the next version of Google's mobile operating system due in the third quarter.

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Tags consumer electronicsGoogleAndroidsmartphonesAparna Chennapragada

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