Want an even smarter smartphone? The Google app now brings "new smarts" to Android devices — with a new look to boot.
Google released this week an update to its Google app for Android, which now sports Android 5.0 Lollipop's Material Design and features "smarter" capabilities. The Google app handles everything from Web searches to Google Now voice commands, so it only makes sense that it would get the Lollipop treatment as the new operating system is rolled out to new and existing devices.
What do these changes mean for you? Here's what the Google app update has to offer business users. [Android 5.0 Lollipop: 7 Sweet Features for Business]
What you'll instantly notice with the update is a spiffy new look. The Google app now sports Android's new Material Design, which Google says features "bold colors, fluid animations and simplified layouts." It aims to create a more intuitive user experience that includes improved touch and voice response and better transitions between apps.
One time-saving enhancement business users will particularly find useful from Material Design is the ability to use Google Now even when your screen is off. Whether you need your Google to do a Web search, get directions or perform quick tasks, simply say "OK Google" to ask your question or make a command — no need to go through the extra steps of activating the screen and unlocking the device. (Note that this feature currently only works for the Nexus 6, Nexus 9 and Samsung Galaxy Note 4.)
As if the Google app wasn't smart enough, the update also introduces several new capabilities to make using the app even better for business users. In addition to being your digital personal assistant, it can now also send you reminders, perform in-app searches and even help you make decisions.
- Reminders. Stay on top of your schedule and never forget important events. The Google app integrates with everything from your Gmail to your calendar, and its new Now cards brings them all together to keep your life and business organized. Now cards work by automatically tracking things like dinners, meetings and other plans mentioned in emails, then sending you cards that ask if you'd like to add them to your calendar and set reminders. Google says you can also set up reminders for other things, like items you need to pick up at the grocery store, sports scores and where you parked your car.
- In-app searches. Do more with the Google app using your favorite apps. The feature can now perform in-app searches instead of limiting it to the Web and data stored on your device. The example Google gives is Tumblr — just say, "OK Google, search Tumblr for 'Things Organized Neatly,'" and it will open the app automatically and take you to Tumblr's search results.
- Flip coin. Feeling indecisive? Just say, "OK Google, flip a coin" and let Google decide for you.