Google Now received a new update, for all Jellybean devices 4.1 and 4.2, that brings a couple of new features. Most of all, this latest update seems to solve a long standing problem, which is the lack of feedback Google Now gives you on what it can actually do. Now, Google Now will show you a new information screen as soon as you are in listen mode, which shows you some of the voice commands you can issue. This is a very welcomed addition that, to be honest, still kind of baffles me why it wasn’t included to begin with. When you start Google Now for the first time, it does show you a small tutorial of some actions you can do, but it’s very bare bones and doesn’t really show off how powerful and useful it can be.
That aside, the new update also adds a couple of new features: The first one is that, in case you have a smart, internet-connected TV, Google Now will automatically fetch programming info, and will show you information about what’s currently playing, and will recognize what you are watching. Kinda neat. Still no word out no how exactly it works or what kind of compatibility it has, but for now it seems to work with devices even outside Google TV, as long as they are connected to the same network.
The second new feature, which isn’t new at all, is that the “listen to” and “play” commands now work reliably, after being broken for a couple of versions. Google Now will offer you the choice of how to execute the music as well, and even let you select between buying it right away from the play store or listening to it from your library. This is a useful feature, however Google Now still has some problems recognizing band names, especially when combined with the “play <song> by <band>” commands, so your mileage may vary.
The second thing of note about Google Now is that a new tip for speeding up your searches has showed up this week, and it seems to vastly improve the user experience in a lot of cases. The fix is easy and requires no special software, so try it out and see if it works for you! All you have to do is: Go to your Settings, then Apps, then navigate to the “All” tab. In there, look for “Search Applications Provider”. Tap it, and click the “Disable” button on the right. Apparently, this application manages the external sources for search information, like recognizing the name of your contacts, or the contents of some of your notes, but it slows down your searches even when not in use. So, if you’re not happy with how long your searches are taking, give this tip a try and let us know if it works. The new update also mentioned performance improvements, and some people reported much faster searches after installing the new update, so either way you’ll come out ahead, however, if you didn’t receive the update, or did receive it and found no difference, this can be a useful tip. And that’s it for today, as usual, leave us a comment letting us know what you think!