Google’s Now on Tap, an Android service that parses the content on your smartphone’s display to serve up contextually relevant links, is a great demonstration of the search giant’s machine-learning muscle, but not necessarily the killer app some predicted. Sure, it’s nice to have Google surface showtimes for, say, that movie you and a friend were texting about, but sometimes Tap results miss the mark or don’t appear quickly.
But Now on Tap is evolving, and with the handy new additions some folks are beginning to see, it may become a bit more useful soon: Users who’ve opted to receive beta releases of the Google search app have noticed new shortcuts within Now on Tap’s interface.
Previously, pressing and holding the home button on a Now on Tap-compatible smartphone surfaced one of two screens: the aforementioned search results if Google could make sense of what was on your smartphone’s screen, or a “Nothing on Tap” error message if it couldn’t. In the latest Google app beta revision (version 6.0), though, both are joined by two rows of icons: quick actions –“New reminder,” “Create an event,” “Set an alarm,” “Start timer,” “Navigate to work,” and “Navigate home” — and a link to a Google maps search for “places nearby” — e.g., restaurants, cafes, bars, shopping, gas stations, and ATMs.