How To Use Google Now on Tap, Now On Marshmallow

Make the most out of the new Android Marshmallow feature

Google Now on Tap is an enhancement of an existing feature, Google Now, in which various cards pop up with information relating to what you're doing on your smartphone. For example, if you search for a restaurant, you may get a card with driving directions and the estimated travel time. Or if you've searched for a sports team, you may get a card with that team's season record or current score if they're playing. The "on tap" part of this feature gives you the power to request more information when you need it and to interact directly from the app that you're using. Right now, it primarily works with Google products, but you'll start seeing it interact with third-party apps soon enough. You can start using it once you update your Android OS to 6.0 aka Marshmallow.

Here's what you can do with Google Now on Tap. Have you tried it out yet? Let me know on Facebook and Twitter. I'd love to hear from you.

Turn it on

Enable Google Now on Tap

Once you've got Marshmallow installed, you have to enable turn Google Now on Tap. It's easy, but I'll admit I had to look it up. (Luckily Google has instructions.) All you have to do is press and hold the home button, whether your smartphone has a hardware or software button. At left, you can see the message that pops up. Click "turn on" and you're good to go. Tap your home button to use this feature going forward or say "OK Google" and ask a question related to the app you're using.

You can also access Google Now and its settings by swiping right on your screen. Under Voice, you can enable or disable "On Tap." 

Get information about a artist, band, or song

Google Now on Tap: Music

I gave Google Now on Tap a try, first by playing a song on Google's Play Music, though it will work in third-party apps, as well. You'll get links to information about the song playing as well as the artist, with links to YouTube, IMDb, Facebook, Twitter, and other apps with relevant information. This way you can easily follow your favorite band on social media or view music videos without having to open a browser and do a Google search.

Learn more about a movie (or series of movies)

Google Now on Tap: Movie

You can do the same with movies; as you can see here, Google Now on Tap brought up information both about the Star Wars movie series and the 2015 film.

Get details about a restaurant, hotel, or other point of interest

Google Now on Tap: Place

The same goes for places. Here I searched for Four Seasons, and got results for both the hotel and restaurant chain. I can look at reviews of each and get directions quickly.

Sometimes, On Tap gets it wrong

Google Now on Tap: irrelevant result

On my first Google Now on Tap attempt, I launched it in the Gmail app after I received a notification that a new episode of the podcast Serial. The episode is titled "The Golden Chicken" and Google Now pulled up information about a restaurant with that name rather than Serial.

And sometimes, there's nothing

Google Now on Tap: Nothing

It's also possible, though not easy, to stump Google Now on Tap with an obscure search or an app that it can't read, such as your photo gallery. All in all, though, it's a great research tool.