We could tell you about the security levels Android 6.0 has been boosted with, and how you can control what permissions various apps have if you feel like getting into the nitty gritty of things, increase the battery life, integrate the fingerprint technology into more than just unlocking a phone, or even how you can uninstall even some of Google’s apps if you deem them unnecessary, but these don’t grab regular people.
Rather, what piqued our attention in playing with Android 6.0 yesterday was how Google was trying to make its Google Now virtual assistant more conversational, and so you didn’t have to repeat yourself when you were asking it questions.
For instance, we’ve asked Siri questions and just had Apple’s mobile secretary just point us to a mobile search, which is what we expected even if it’s not what we wanted.
Under Android 6.0, however, we can ask a question, say “What time is it in New Orleans?”, and continue that line of questioning without mentioning the subject again, so instead of continuing with “What’s the weather like in New Orleans?”, the wording could be “What’s the weather there?”
This is what Google calls a “contextual” search, and according to how it has developed Android 6.0, it’s a big part of what’s new.
What’s also new is “Now on Tap”, a rather curious take on how search and the need to permanently look up information has infiltrated our lives that’ll likely have those obsessed with tin foil hats running for the strongest aluminium roll they can find.
Now on Tap takes the power of that Google assistant and essentially looks for keywords in what you’re doing on screen at the time, researching these elements for you when you decide you want to load them.
Let’s say a colleague messages you to meet him at Opera Bar and you have no idea where that is. By holding down the home button in Android 6.0, Now on Tap kicks in and offers up a few Google Now-inspired cards on top of what you’re doing, revealing directions and information for various items the operating system has picked up that you might be talking about.
You’re not leaving the message, however, and are just sitting on top, allowing you to look up quickly what you wanted to possibly find, and then get right back into the message, keeping your attention focused.
The phone’s ability to pick up on people, places, and things through Now on Tap is just one part the impressed us, and now Google Photos sports the ability to pick up on things you’re taking photos of, and then indexing it as such.
Google’s Shane Treeves pointed out that he had tried to capture a photo of a quokka recently, and Android 6.0 had actually already indexed the image with “quokka”, allowing him to find the photo when he search his phone, but it goes deeper than identifying a cute small furry animal.
When you go traveling, the GPS information from your phone will help Google tag the photo so you an find it later, while taking a photo of a major landmark will allow Google Photos to identify it, tag it, and then let you find it in your photos later on.