If you’ve got a device running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean or higher, you better not miss out on checking the latest update to the Google Search app, as it is a massive one! As always, there are a number of new Google Now smart cards added to the mix, but most importantly, the brings a dedicated Google Now widget for for your home screen and lock screen, for the first time since the inception of Google Now. That’s right – you can now have all the automatically updated location and travel-based information from Google Now displayed right on your Android device’s home as well as lock screen. In addition to the new widgets, the update adds movie passes from Fandango, movie ratings from Rotten Tomatoes, real estate listings from Zillow, better support for US college sports, and a dedicated music button on the app’s voice search UI indicating the active status of Google Search’s song identification feature.
Over the past few days, rumors were in the air that the upcoming update to Google’s mobile OS might introduce us to Google Now widgets. As it turns out, the folks over at Mountain View had this surprise feature planned for the latest Google Search update that has now started rolling out to all users. Available for your Android device’s home and lock screen (Android 4.2 and higher only), the Google Now widget can keep you updated about all the weather, sports, stocks, traffic, movies, news and other automatically-determined location and travel-based information through various compact cards.
The maximum number of cards that can be sported by the widget is determined by the dedicated portion of screen you’ve allotted to it. The content to be shown on the cards will be automatically decided by Google Now, based on your present location and Google Now smart cards settings.
Among other noteworthy changes incorporated within the app, you’re now able to get movie passes that you’ve purchased via Fandango. In addition, movies cards now display movie ratings fetched from Rotten Tomatoes. Better yet, Google Now also lets you know the ideal time to leave for movies, and once you’ve reached the place, it’ll automatically pop up your tickets within the Google Search app as well as Google Now widgets.
If you are on the hunt for an apartment to rent, Google Now will pull up a relevant smart card powered by Zillow Rentals. In addition to displaying all the relevant real estate listings, the card will provide you with all the important information regarding the place including price, dimensions, construction et al.
The brand new music button atop the Google Voice Search interface indicates that the app is currently trying to identify the song being played in the background. Interestingly, the button will only appear if there’s a tune playing in the background. However, this particular facility is currently exclusive to users based in US only.
Just a heads up: in case the widget doesn’t immediately show after the update, try launching the Google Search app once, and then check for the Google Now widget from the app drawer. It should be there now.