Google I/O 2015: Maps to bring offline search and navigation; Google Now gets smarter

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Google I/O 2015 developer conference had some major announcements on the Google Maps app. Just like it has done with YouTube, you will soon be able to take the Maps’ search and turn-by-turn navigation feature offline. Google hasn’t given an exact date as to when this feature will begin working on Maps.

According to Google, even for Maps that you have taken offline, you will get the turn by turn voice navigation feature. This is particularly relevant in markets such as India where cellular connectivity may not always be speedy at all times while driving.

Offline maps navigation will certainly help out a lot of people on saving up on data charges when they are out and about. However, one also needs to keep in mind that taking a map along with all the navigational information offline will certainly take up significant space on your storage.

Now

While Now is a smart personal assistant, Google has improved upon it as well. A feature called ‘Now on Tap’ will basically let Google Now be activated from any screen or app in a contextual manner.

“With “Now on tap,” you can simply tap and hold the home button for assistance without having to leave what you’re doing—whether you’re in an app or on a website,” says the Google blog post.
For instance, if you are mailing a friend about movie listings, tap on the movie name and hold on to the home button. Google Now will just pull up the relevant Now cards to give you more information. This basically lets you do simple tasks without leaving your current app.

Similarly, if you are chatting with a friend about going out to eat at a restaurant, Now on Tap will bring up restaurant details and you can also take actions such as make a call to reserve a table or read reviews on supported apps or lookup the location on a map and so on.

“Google can show you apps from your phone that may help with what you’re doing based on your context—IMDb for movie reviews, OpenTable for reservations, and many more. This is another way developers can get their apps in front of their users at the right moment, when an app is relevant to the task at hand,” says the Google Inside search blog.

To make this possible Google is implementing a deeper level of machine learning which Google senior vice president Sundar Pichai stressed on during the Google I/O keynote.

This will also be a good answer to Cortana’s foray into the Android and iOS ecosystems as well as Apple’s upcoming smart assistant called Proactive on iOS 9. We will come to know how effective Now on Tap is once it launches in the market in the coming months.

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