Google redesign to app and mobile site could be a time-saver for users

Google has started rolling out a small but useful change to its app on Android and iOS, as well as mobile web. The latest update, going live now for users in the United States, takes the form of tappable shortcuts that live underneath the search bar, and can connect you with everything from nearby areas of interest to entertainment news, translation and currency conversion, and, of course, weather forecasts.

Basically, these shortcuts serve as a portal to everything Google offers, from simple queries to more personalized information, like your emails, calendar events, and any travel bookings you might have recently made. If you’re familiar with Google Now, you’ve seen this all before, as such information would pop up dynamically in your feed. To those unaware of the search giant’s myriad services, however, the recent update will put everything in closer reach.

Google is even taking the opportunity to throw in some fun time-wasters. There’s tic-tac-toe, solitaire, a catalog of animal sounds, a shortcut to I’m Feeling Curious, and even coin flipping — which is sure to come in handy as you and your friends decide on which local attraction to hit up. Of course, you could probably ask Google Assistant to handle many of those tasks, but it’s easy to forget that if you don’t often use voice dictation.

Seeing all the shortcuts evenly laid out into categories on Google search feels vaguely reminiscent of the internet home pages of yesteryear. In a sense, Google is becoming the modern AOL or MSN, in that it represents many users’ first point of contact with the internet.

Of course, artificial intelligence, location tracking, and integrated accounts have made the simple tasks of pulling up scores for your favorite teams or finding a spot for lunch much easier today than they were 20 or even 10 years ago. But, as a hub for everything you might want to know at once, Google still carries that timeless appeal.