The latest updates to the Google app for Android include using voice commands while navigating, better handling of poor connections and more customisation options. Check out the new features.
Use voice commands
Tap the Google app to open it, tap the microphone icon and say “Show me directions to...” wherever you want to go. Within seconds there is a route planned to get you there and all you need to do is tap the Start button.
When you are driving you don’t want to be fiddling with your phone controls and so you can stop getting directions by saying “Cancel my navigation.”
This is especially useful when driving to somewhere you know, like driving home. When you get near to home and know where you are, you can easily switch off directions with a voice command.
Are we there yet? Everyone wants to know this, especially kids about 10 minutes after setting off. Now you can say “What’s my ETA” to the app and you will be told what time you are likely to arrive at your destination.
Poor connection handling
The internet connection is not always good, especially when you are out and travelling. If the phone cannot get a good connection when you search for something, the Google app will wait until the connection is better, then fetch the result and deliver it to you.
Configure Google cards
The Google app presents information on cards, such as a weather report, news stories, and so on. The content of these cards can be customised so you see more of what you like and less of the things you don’t.
Tap the three dots in the top right corner of a card to display a list of options. For example, a new story can be hidden, you can say you are not interested in the topic or from this particular provider.
Tap the menu button in the bottom right corner of the app and then press Customise to choose the topics presented on cards.
Tap Follow topics at the top and it lists categories of news stories like Sports, TV, Films, Musicians, Actors, Athletes and so on. Tap a category and a number of related subcategories are displayed.
Select Musicians for example, and there is a collection of popular artists you can choose to follow, like Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Beyonce and many more. Tap the plus symbol next to the ones you like.
Press News and Politics and you can select popular topics like local and global politics, climate change, education, immigration, feminism and more. In the Hobbies category are subcategories like astronomy, dance, hiking, motorcycles, scuba diving and many more.
There are dozens of categories and subcategories and these enable you to fine tune the cards displayed in the home feed.
Return to the Customise feed screen and scroll down to More Preferences. Tap Show more at the bottom to see the full list. Press Sources and you will see that cards in the Google app can be based on your Gmail. For example, if there are bills in your inbox, the Google app will remind you that they need paying. It can detect card rentals, ticket confirmations, flight updates and other events in emails.
Scroll down further and cards can be based on events in Google Calendar, so you will get reminders of appointments. Cards can also be based on updates at the websites you visit in Chrome.
Some people might regard this as an invasion of privacy and the app is clearly analysing emails and calendar events, but it would not be as helpful if it didn't. It is up to you whether you allow it access, but I prefer to see these events, so all the switches are on.
Spend a few minutes customising the news topics you prefer and the sources like Gmail and Calendar, and the result is a more interesting and useful feed in the Google app.
- Written by Roland Waddilove
- Created: 27 November 2017