It has taken a while, but Android 6, Marshmallow, has finally arrived on top end mobile phones. It is time to make use of the new features in this updated operating system and one you should try is Now on Tap.

Google Tap is activated by holding down the home button on your Android phone or tablet. After a second or two, a panel opens at the bottom of the screen.

The first time you do this, you are asked if you want to turn on Now on Tap. Tap the TURN ON button.

Now on Tap

On subsequent occasions when you hold down the home button, the contents of the screen are analysed and one or more cards appear at the bottom of the screen. Swipe up to see them all. There may be one, two, three or perhaps more.

The contents of the cards depends on the content of the screen – the app or web page you are looking at. In this example, the web page is about NASA and so there is a card with NASA on.

 Google Now on Tap Android 6 Now on Tap

Each of the buttons performs an action, such as a Google search, show the NASA Facebook, Google Plus or YouTube pages. They enable you to get more information about NASA.

Now on Tap

The number of cards and the items they display depend on what you are looking at on the phone when the home button is pressed and held.

Here are two cards that were displayed when reading a news story about the clothing company Next. At the top is a card that has been created from a phrase picked out of the article being read. There is a link to a related news story.

Android Now on Tap

Below are similar buttons to last time, but now there is also a Call button. Now on Tap has clearly identified the company mentioned in the news story being read and has looked up the phone number so they can be called with one tap.

Take a screenshot

Down at the bottom of the screen is a standard Android share button. Tapping it creates a screenshot and the usual sharing options appear (they depend on the apps you have on your phone). You can share the screenshot with any of these services. Swipe left and right to see all the sharing options.

Google Now on Tap

That is a useful feature and it is an alternative to the usual sharing facilities.

Turn off Now on Tap

If you don’t want to use Now on Tap, just don’t hold down the home button on the phone or tablet. If this gesture clashes with some other function you want to use, it can be completely disabled. Long press home and then swipe the cards up. In the bottom right corner is the three dots menu and on that is Settings. Use the switch to turn off Now on Tap.

Try Now on Tap with different things on the screen because the cards and options on them vary. Sometimes they are useful, sometimes not. Try it when looking at sports information and your favourite team, try it when listening to music, and try it when looking at food and restaurants, or viewing movie information.