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Google Now on Tap Adds More Text Searching and Image Smarts

Introduced with the release of Google’s Android Marshmallow operating system last year, the Now on Tap feature has just been made a bit smarter. A one-touch tool for accessing information about what’s displayed on a device’s screen, Now on Tap has just been updated to provide users with even more specific details they might find helpful.

While reading an article, for example, a user can now select a specific word or phrase, and then tap and hold the home button to immediately see a definition and links to other relevant information.

Google has also boosted Now on Tap’s ability to search for information about photos and other images on the screen. Using the tool while looking at a picture of a giant sequoia tree, for instance, pops up Google cards with information about the famous General Sherman tree and Sequoia National Park.

English Now, Other Languages Soon

First unveiled in 2015 at the Google I/O developers conference, Now on Tap introduced new mobile capabilities for Google’s Now intelligent assistant. The tool was designed to make it easier for Android device users to find additional information about what they were currently viewing on their screens, without having to leave that particular app.

Now on Tap generates results based on what appears to be the most relevant information on the device’s screen. A chat with a friend about seeing a movie, for instance, can call up links to the IMDB movie database or to YouTube trailers for that specific film.

With the new updates, users can now highlight specific words or phrases to make clear exactly what help they would like from Google Now. And the new image search capabilities can not only find information about photos but about movie posters, magazine images and other types of pictures.

For now, the access to word definitions is only available in English. However, support for other languages will be added over the coming weeks, product manager Aneto Okonkwo said in a blog post Wednesday.

Google Now: Listening and Recording

Like other intelligent digital assistants, such as Microsoft’s Cortana and Apple’s Siri, Google Now can be voice activated and respond to spoken commands. However, Google Now’s voice response — turned on by the phrase, “OK, Google” — means that users can often activate that capability accidentally.

When that happens, whatever the person is saying is recorded and stored by Google. Users can check what audio files Google might have stored from intentional or accidental Google Now searches on a Voice & Audio Activity page associated with their personal accounts. Users can delete any or all of those stored audio files by checking individual files and then selecting “delete.”

Google launched the voice and audio portal in June of 2015, “meaning that it is now probably full of various things you have said, which you thought might have been in private,” according to a report in the UK’s Independent newspaper.

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