Hands on with the latest Google Now update

I’m not quite sure why I’m so excited about the latest update to Google Search on Android, but it probably has something to do with the new widgets that are now available: On all Android devices running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean or higher, you can now place a Google Now widget on your homescreen, which will display relevant information depending on what cards you currently have available. Additionally, depending on your device, you’ll also be able to add a Google Now widget to your lockscreen. (This is available on Nexus devices, for example, which run pure Android; on my HTC EVO 4G LTE that’s running Sense, I’m restricted to only those widgets that are already built into Sense.)

The widget does seem to act a little strangely. You can resize it to fill up the entire screen, or to only take up one row of icons. However, regardless of the size, each card that the widget displays only takes up one line – you can see in the image here that, although the widget takes up practically my entire screen, the weather card is still only one line, and there are no other cards currently on display. Ideally, in a future update, Google will revise this; it would be nice for the weather card to give me slightly more detailed information, such as future temperatures, etc.

I also wish that the cards would begin at the top of the space I have allocated for the widget, rather than the middle. This is more of an aesthetic request, though, rather than one that has to do with functionality.

Overall, I’m very pleased with the widget, except for the reservations I expressed above, and I’m excited to see how it will look throughout my day as cards come and go. In addition to the widgets, the official changelog also lists these enhancements:

  • Movie passes from Fandango
  • Movies now includes ratings from Rotten Tomatoes
  • Real estate listings from Zillow when in the market for a home
  • Music button when a song is playing in voice mode (US only)
  • Support for US college sports

Take that, Siri.

Download: Google Play

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John F

John was the editor-in-chief at Pocketables. His articles generally focus on all things Google, including Chrome and Android, although his love of new gadgets and technology doesn't stop there. His current arsenal includes the Nexus 6 by Motorola, the 2013 Nexus 7 by ASUS, the Nexus 9 by HTC, the LG G Watch, and the Chromebook Pixel, among others.