If you're on the Android platform, and you're not using Google Now... you have no idea what you're missing. Google Now is one of the most powerful, and well integrated personal digital assistants you'll ever use. But most users only assume Google Now is good for web searches, setting reminders, and listening to their TV. Little do they know that Google Now has a lot more handy tricks up its sleeve—all ready to make your life easier.
Instead of having to dig deep into the muck and mire to find some of the cool ways to make use of Google Now, I've prepared a list of some of my favorite ways right here. So, grab your smartphone and warm up your voice for a bit of Google Now fun.
1. Define words
As a writer, I'm always on the look out for new words to play with. Every so often, I come across one such word that escapes my understanding. Instead of having to fire up Merriam Webster, I can ask Google Now to define said word for me. How? With this simple command:
Where WORD is the word you want to define. Once Google Now recognizes the command, it will speak the definition to you (Figure A).
Google Now defining steampunk on a Verizon-branded Nexus 6.
2. Toggle Bluetooth and Wi-Fi
If you're one of those users who likes to conserve as much battery as possible, you likely turn Bluetooth and Wi-Fi on and off throughout the day. Good thing Google Now has you covered here. Instead of grabbing your device, unlocking it, pulling down the notification bar, and turning on/off the service, you can simply say:
"Okay Google Now, turn on Wi-Fi."
Note: The above command assumes you have the Okay Google Now hotword set up and have it set to always listen.
3. Calculating and converting
Google Now can both calculate and convert for you. If you're in need of converting, say, US Dollars to Euros, simply say:
"Okay Google Now, 100 US Dollars in Euros."
Google Now will then report the results (Figure B).
Converting USD to Euros with Google Now.
You can do calculations as well. Say you need to know what 500 times 25 is. Simply say:
"Okay Google Now, 500 times 25"
Google Now will not only recite the answer, but it will also open a calculator ready for your input (Figure C).
Calculations made simple.
4. Note to self
This is a phrase you'll probably catch me saying or writing at least once every day. Thankfully, Google Now can take those notes to self—using whatever app you might have installed that can take notes (this works especially well with Google Keep). I often use this when I think of a plot point for a book—it's faster than typing when on the go.
So, when something important comes to mind, simply say:
"Okay Google Now, note to self NOTE"
Where NOTE is the actual note. You'll be prompted to select the app to use. Tap the app, and then tap the check to save your note (Figure D).
Note to self is a handy tool.
5. Time zone de-confusion
How many times have you scheduled a meeting in another state and realized you had no idea what time zone that state was in or what the difference in time zones was? Well, Google Now can help you out.
Say you have a video meeting with someone in Boulder, Colorado, and you have no idea what time it is there. Simply say:
"Okay Google Now, what time is it in Boulder, Colorado?"
Google Now will recite the time to you. You no longer have to be confused. Before you leave that screen, you can also find out what the weather is like in that same city by saying:
"How's the weather?"
Google Now will report to you the weather in the same city it just reported the time.
6. Stick with a subject
Say you want to view some images of Natalie Dormer. Say:
"Okay Google Now, pictures of Natalie Dormer"
Now, you want to know how old she is. Say:
"Okay Google Now, how old is she?"
Now, you want to know where she's from. Say:
"Okay Google Now, where is she from?"
As you can see, Google Now will stick with the same subject until you are finished with the search.
7. Six degrees of Kevin Bacon
How about a bit of fun? Everyone knows of the "Bacon Number", right? How many degrees of separation is a person from Kevin Bacon. If you're unsure, say:
"Okay Google Now, what is Bacon Number?"
Google Now will define Bacon Number for you.
Now, let's find out what what the Bacon Number of Keifer Sutherland. Say:
"Okay Google now, what is Keifer Sutherland's Bacon Number?"
Google now will report that it is 1.
Google now is an incredibly powerful tool ready to make your day much more efficient. The longer you use this voice-activated assistant, the more you'll come to depend on it... and the more you'll discover what it can do.
Have you found a cool Google Now trick? How about one that you use daily? If so, share it in the discussion thread below.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.