Android 6.0 Marshmallow brings a number of changes to your Android phone, but Now on Tap is the biggest individual new feature.
First demoed at Google I/O, the idea is to extend the reach of Google across your device, making it easier and faster to find the information you need.
It's designed to bridge the gap between Google and the rest of your phone, delivering results without you having to stop what you're doing first. It's part of Android 6.0 Marshmallow, announced by Google today alongside the launch of the Nexus 5X and the Nexus 6P.
How does Now on Tap work?
Now on Tap is integrated into Android 6.0 Marshmallow. To use Now on Tap, you simply have to long press on the home button and a frame appears around whatever page you're looking at.
The results then simply pop-up at the bottom, suggesting contextual results based on what is on that page.
For example: if a friend is suggesting somewhere for dinner, you'll be able to access Now on Tap and read about the restaurant. That will save you having to copy the name and paste it into Google to get those results.
Does Now on Tap support other apps?
Yes, it does. Not only does Now on Tap return you a result you might get through Google, but it also delivers results from apps you might have on your phone.
A scenario might be arranging a movie. If someone suggests a movie, you can use Now on Tap to return results, with third-party integration offering a wider range of information. For example, you could open up IMDB to read a little more about that movie.
Google says that developers don't have to do anything to have their apps included, so if you have a particular app, it should hopefully appear ready for you to tap and get the results you want.
How does Now on Tap perform in the real world?
Now on Tap hasn't been fully released, but it has been enabled in the developer preview build of Android 6.0 Marshmallow. We've been putting Now on Tap through its paces in these early days to see how it performs in the real world.
We've mostly used it to discover information based on messages we've been sent. For many companies, it will bring up websites and social channels. We found this was the case for restaurants Nando's and Wagamama.
We've found that locations work well enough. If someone tells you they are at a particular place like a street name, Now on Tap will offer to give you navigation directions to that location, which is really handy.
But we've also found that the result will be that there is "nothing on tap". We suspect that many of the final pieces of the system are being put into place and we'll update once we have the final release of Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
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