Google’s ‘Now on Tap’ lets you run searches in real-time via your camera

google now on tap image search
Google’s Now on Tap just got a whole lot more functional — you can now select specific text to search, and the Marshmallow-only feature can provide results on image searches.

If you haven’t heard of Now on Tap before, that may be because Google hasn’t done a great job of marketing the feature. It’s only available on Android 6.0 Marshmallow devices and above, and is triggered when you press and hold the home button in any app, or on any screen. When you press and hold it for the first time, it will say that you have “discovered” Now on Tap — it’s almost as though Google doesn’t want you to use the feature.

Now on Tap analyzes the information on the screen you trigger it on. For example, assuming a friend messages you plans to meet at a restaurant at a specific time, if you press and hold the home button on that conversation, Now on Tap will offer to create a calendar event with the data provided. You can fill in the rest if it doesn’t have enough.

It’s also essentially a hands-free way to run a Google search based on what you’re looking at — if you come across a mention of Sundar Pichai in a news reader app, triggering Now on Tap will offer up more information about the Google CEO, with links to his Twitter, other social networks, and websites. 

And while it was previously difficult to analyze specific text on a page as Now on Tap would just read everything, Google is now letting you trigger Now on Tap after you highlight a specific word so that it offers more precise information. This is reminiscent of Google Goggles, where you could highlight text after taking a picture to run searches — surprisingly, Google hasn’t killed off that app yet, even though it hasn’t been updated since 2014.

“For example, if you’re reading a news article you can select a specific word, like crustacean, and get a definition and links to relevant apps,” writes Aneto Okonkwo, product manager at Google Search.

If you’re looking at images, you can now use Now on Tap to run image searches for more information. Google offers up the example of looking at a sequoia tree, and tapping and holding Now on Tap. This will bring up information about the Sequoia National Park, and General Sherman — the man that particular sequoia was named after.

Arguably the coolest new feature is the ability to run a Now on Tap search in the camera app in real time. Say you’re looking at the George Washington Bridge and you want more information on it — if you point your smartphone’s camera at the bridge and trigger Now on Tap, it will bring up results in the camera app.

“This works for more than just famous structures like the Bay Bridge, you can even point your camera at a movie poster or magazine and get additional info about what you’re looking at,” Okonkwo says.

No updates are necessary to get these feature, thanks to it just being a server-side switch. They’re available now, but word definitions are only available in English at the moment. Google says it will be rolling out to other languages in the coming weeks.


Amazon slashes prices on Fitbit Versa smartwatches for Presidents’ Day

Amazon is offering a solid $30 discount on this great fitness tracking smartwatch right now. So if you're looking for a wearable that can help you track steps, sleep, and activity, now is a great time to pick one up for less.

Windows updates shouldn't cause problems, but if they do, here's how to fix them

Windows update not working? It's a more common problem than you might think. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to troubleshoot it and in this guide we'll break them down for you step by step.

Tight on space? Here’s how to transfer photos from an iPhone to a computer

Never lose any of your cherished selfies or family vacation photos from your iPhone again by learning how to transfer photos from your iPhone to a computer, whether you want to use a cable or wireless transfer.

Apple’s most affordable 2018 iPad is now even cheaper on Amazon at $249

The entry-level iPad is the iPad to get for the vast majority of people. It's inexpensive, well-designed, and quite powerful, especially for the price. Speaking of price, the 9.7-inch iPad is now even more affordable from Amazon.

Stop buying old tablets, says Samsung, buy the new Galaxy Tab S5e instead

Samsung has launched the Galaxy Tab S5e -- the E is for Essential -- a reasonably priced tablet that includes many of the features we like from the Tab A 10.5, and the Tab S4. Here's what you need to know.

Bag yourself a bargain with the best budget tablets under $200

The battle for your budget tablet affections is really ramping up. Which tablet, costing less than $200, should be commanding your attention? We take a look at some different options for the budget-conscious.

OnePlus 6T vs. Honor View 20: We compare the cameras in these ‘flagship killers’

For less than $600, you can buy either the OnePlus 6T or the Honor View 20, two extremely capable smartphones with plenty of exciting features. But which one has the best camera? We found out on a recent trip to France.

What is Wi-Fi 6? Here's a look at the next evolution of the wireless standard

We're exploring the new naming convention for wireless standards, how it affects the devices you buy, and what the upcoming Wi-Fi generation is changing for the better.
Home Theater

Samsung accidentally leaks its new Galaxy Buds ahead of launch

It's been all but certain that Samsung would launch a successor to its Gear IconX wireless earbuds soon, but a newly leaked photo and recent FCC certification document seems to indicate that the debut is very close.

Focals succeed where Google Glass fumbled (but do we really need smartglasses?)

It’s been seven years since Google took the wraps off Google Glass. Now, we’re finally getting a modern-day equivalent we want to wear. North’s Focals combine subtle style with an intuitive interface to craft smartglasses you’ll…
Home Theater

Hi-res streaming audio service Qobuz arrives in U.S., threatens Tidal’s monopoly

For several years, Tidal enjoyed a monopoly on hi-res music streaming in the U.S. Now, French company Qobuz is here to offer some competition with a variety of monthly plans starting at $10 a month.

These 13 gadgets walk a fine line between ingenious and insane

The annual avalanche of devices and gadgets is astounding, but how many will succeed? A few are destined to spark new trends, while the majority fade deservedly into obscurity. We look at some gadgets on the border of brilliant and bonkers.

Save space on your iPhone by turning off Live Photos in the camera app

If you want to save storage space on your iPhone or reduce the size of your backup for iCloud, then you should think about turning off Live Photos in the camera app. Find out exactly how to do it with our easy guide.

The best Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus cases to keep your titanic phone safe

The new Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus is a gorgeous device, with one of the best dual-lens cameras we've ever seen. Keep your titanic device safe and scratch-free with the best Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus cases.