With the introduction of Google Now in Jellybean, Google really showed the world what really makes Android a “smart” platform. Where there is a functional Google Now port available for ICS devices, but all Android phones running versions older than that haven’t had a chance to get a taste of the amazingly intelligent search assistant. Now, however, the interactive cards that appear in Google Now’s search results have been made available to the masses through Google mobile search. The rollout of information card integration with Google search has taken effect for most smartphones, including iOS and Android devices. Thanks to this integration, you will be able to get direct answers to your questions, rather than just getting links to webpages. Ranging from instant solutions to calculations, currency/unit conversions, details regarding stocks, routes to destinations of choice, weather and sports information and general Knowledge Graph-based queries, you can now view all these on interactive cards without having to navigate away from the search results page.
Before we tell you about all the good things this update brings to the search engine, let’s talk about the bad news first. It seems the changes haven’t rolled out for all smartphone platforms. The interactive cards failed to show up on any of our Windows Phone devices, and it is possible that you might not be able to access the new feature on all Android phones either, as was the case with Google Handwrite (though, we did successfully test it on the Gingerbread & ICS stock browsers, Chrome for Android and Dolphin Browser). If your phone is among those lucky enough to support this amazing new feature, here are some of the things you can do with it.
- Weather: Just type “weather in” followed by the name or ZIP code of your city, and Google will show a detailed chart outlining the forecast for the week. Like all Google Now features, this weather card is interactive, and you can move the time slider to view weather for a particular time or day.
- Sports: These cards list recent sports fixtures, scores and results. It is possible to select any date to view results that fall under it. Entering queries the likes of “Olympics football” yields these cards.
- Stocks: Entering the name of a company will open a card showing a particular stock’s price and current progress. Swiping to the left of the card brings up news items related to the searched company, while the next menu gives you a market overview from that particular stock’s perspective.
- Calculator: Like Wolfram-Alpha, you can perform calculations within Google’s search box (for example, “4740.73 – 21 squared”), and doing so will not only provide you with the result of the calculation, but a functional calculator will come up too, letting users perform additional calculations right from within the results page. This feature isn’t all-new, but it seems to have been incorporated into the new cards system.
- Unit & currency converter: Like the calculator card, you just have to ask Google to convert a particular unit or currency (for example “10 kilometers in miles”), and you will get a whole conversion calculator to match your query.
- Routes: Ask Google to tell you the route from place A (or “your location”) to place B, and the resulting card will show you the mapped route, ETA and distance in kilometers.
- Flight tracking: Queries regarding flights from a certain location now show on elaborate cards complete with times of departure and arrival.
- General queries: If you type a question such as “Who is Lionel Messi”, you will get a Google Now-like Knowledge Graph card that provides the answer in just a few words. You can, however, get a more detailed view of the card by simply tapping the arrow on its right edge. The detailed view features additional info, as well as references and related searches.
- Definitions: The definitions of searched words are accompanied by an audio pronunciation and references like Wikipedia and Merriam-Webster.
The new search result cards have only been added to mobile search for now, but they are expected to make their way to the desktop counterpart pretty soon. Needless to say, a very smart addition by Google.