Cillian Bracken Conway
17th Dec, 2015

Google has announced the addition of several holiday-related scenarios on Now on Tap this week. Users can now get flight information from a text, get tracking information for a package from an email, and get links to related articles from a news story.

Users can get information on a flight status based on a flight number sent through text, without the need to run a separate search or use Google Now. Users only need to tap and hold their phone’s home button, and the needed data will appear right on top of an SMS app.

Image of two iPhone screens. One showing a text about a flight number and another showing flight details pulled up using Now on Tap

Users who want to make sure gifts bought online will arrive on time just need to read their email confirmation, and tap and hold the home button to display a package’s tracking information.

Google’s Now on Tap will also pull up related links of a news story, using the same tap-and-hold process while reading the news.

The search giant added these scenarios, as they slowly expand Now on Taps’ use cases and services.

Now on Tap is a contextual search feature that enables users to obtain more information without exiting one app to access another. It works as a connective link between different Android app experiences. It was introduced last year during the I/O developer conference, where Google’s director of conventional search, Behshad Behzadi, demonstrated how the feature works without the need to use keywords or doing a formal search.

Behzadi gave an example whereby Now on Tap pulled up information about a particular restaurant mentioned in a chat between friends. The information box included access to the Yelp app where users can use the Open Table feature to make a reservation.

The same example also pulled up an “Add a reminder” button, because the conversation also mentioned about a paper that must be submitted. Users only need to tap the button to add a reminder without opening a To-Do List or Calendar app.

All these steps were taken without moving from an app to another. Now on Tap simply moves users between apps as needed. There are no keywords involved either, illustrating how Now on Tap relies on context alone to help people find the information they need.

The feature is also now available in multiple languages, as part of a multi-pronged initiative to make search more useful to smartphone users. It now works in Spanish, Russian, Italian, Korean, German, and French. Now on Tap is live in Android Marshmallow.

Bing has also introduced Bing Snapshots for Android, which works similarly to Google’s Now on Tap. This would require users to update or install the Bing app before the in-app search capability can work in the background.