Google's release of Android 6.0 Marshmallow was not as exciting as its major update to Android 5.0 Lollipop, but the newest iteration of Android does come with a few major features, the most interesting of which is Google Now on Tap.
It has a pretty unwieldy name, but if anything will make it worth upgrading to Android 6.0 Marshmallow—that is, if the OEMs and carriers finally decide to roll out the update to your device—it will be Google Now on Tap.
Built on Google's expertise on machine learning and contextual search, Now on Tap will analyze what appears on the user's screen and will serve up useful information related to what it "sees." For instance, when Now on Tap sees an email about making reservations at a certain restaurant, it will bring up Google Now's familiar-looking cards to show directions to the restaurant, Yelp reviews, the menu and other information where applicable.
But it's not just information about restaurants and businesses Now on Tap can serve up, and it doesn't just work for text information. For instance, activating Now on Tap while listening to music on Spotify and asking "Who's the vocalist?" will bring the answer to the question, even without the user specifying the name of the band. Now on Tap also recognizes photos, such as those on Instagram, and opening Now on Tap and asking for similar images will bring up what the user asked for, even if he did not specify the name of the place.
Even though Now on Tap comes with Android 6.0 Marshmallow, users still have to activate it to be able to use it. Needless to say, it only works with the Google app downloaded into the device, and Google Now should be enabled. Inside Google Now, open the Settings hamburger menu on the upper left side of the screen, go to Voice, then check the Now on Tap option. Users will now be able to use Now on Tap on any screen.
To do so, they simply have to tap and hold the home button whenever they want to access Now on Tap. Google's smart search feature will then bring up the information users didn't know they wanted to see without having to open up another app or going to Google's search engine.
Admittedly, Now on Tap still has its limitations, such as less robust information showing up for some content. However, with Google's expertise in natural language processing, Now on Tap can pave the way toward a future of search that ironically doesn't involve searching.