Google Search: Now You Can Talk to Ask for Help
Google Search is making it easier for users to find information they are seeking within their own Gmail, Google Calendar or Google+ accounts just by making a request using their own voice.
The upcoming new feature is bringing capabilities that Google Now users have had for about a year to the Google Search product and can streamline information gathering for users, according to an Aug. 14 post by Roy Livne, product manager for Google Search, on The Official Google Blog.
"Ever had trouble checking your flight's status on the go because it meant digging through your email for the flight number?" wrote Livne. "Or wanted to just quickly see whether your package would arrive on time, without having to look up the tracking info first? You've told us it would be much easier if you could skip the fuss and just ask Google."
With that in mind, Google Search is now being engaged by Google to provide just such an experience for users as part of a new service that is rolling out to all U.S. English-speaking users over the next several days, he wrote. "Soon you'll be able to find this info instantly in Google Search if it's in your Gmail, Google Calendar or Google+. For example, just ask or type, 'What's my flight status?' or 'When will my package arrive?'"
The service will soon be available for users on desktop, tablet and smartphone devices, using voice search that doesn't require users to have to type in their searches. What it will do is find the information you are seeking amid your Gmail messages, Google+ content and your Google Calendar entries and give them context that will answer your spoken inquiries, wrote Livne.
In addition to being able to ask about flight times, delays or other related information, users will be able to ask about dinner or hotel reservations they have made and even get directions to the restaurants or hotels by adding one tap, and will be able to check on purchases they have made simply by asking with their voice. The voice search will even read your calendar entries to tell you what plans you made in the future by asking something as simple as "What are my plans for tomorrow?" wrote Livne.
The voice search can also be used to view photographs that users have loaded into their Google+ accounts, again by asking to view the images for a specific trip.
"We've been offering this kind of info—flights, reservations, appointments and more—for more than a year in Google Now," wrote Livne. "We've gotten great feedback on how convenient it is, especially when you're on the go. Now that it's in Google Search, you can get it anytime you need it."
The Google Search information comes to users via secure, encrypted connections and is visible only when users are signed into their Google accounts, according to the post. Users can choose to enable or disable the service as desired.
Google Now, which was introduced for Android devices by Google in June 2012, presents its information to users through a series of flip-through "cards" that are visible on the screen of a device, providing a different piece of information on each card. The "cards" appear at the moment they are needed by users, such as the train schedule card appearing when they are heading to the local train station.
Users of Google Now set their own preferences for what information cards appear on their mobile devices. So far, more than 30 cards are available for Android users to receive instant updates about public transportation, flight information, traffic reports, sports scores, appointments, weather, hotels, events, restaurant reservations and more.
In April 2013, Google unveiled its Google Now app for iPhone and iPad for the first time as part of a Google Search app for iOS.