Even several years on from its launch, Google Now remains something of a mystery to many Android users. Maybe that’s because it lacks a flashy futuristic name like Apple’s Siri (on the contrary, its name sounds very immediate), or maybe that’s because we don’t know just how deep its box of tricks and commands goes.
We’ve already covered the basic (and silly) functions of Google Now, but here we’re going to go a bit further, showing you how to control internal features of apps like YouTube, WhatsApp, and Google Drive using just your voice, as well as a few other secret Now commands you may have missed.
Control Apps Using Google Now
First, make sure you have Google Now enabled on any screen (Settings -> Google -> Search & Now -> Voice -> “Ok Google” detection -> “From any screen”). Once this is done, you just need to hold the Home button on your phone or say “Ok, Google,” and the Now prompt will pop up.
Control YouTube video playback
Open the YouTube app, activate Google Now, and say any of the following commands to control your YouTube playback. It’s particularly useful if your hands are occupied repairing a computer or handling food. (No one wants a phone covered in raw chicken sludge.)
- “Play” – Play a video
- “Pause” – Pause a video
- “Stop” – Stop playing and buffering the video
- “Minimize” – Shrink the video to the bottom right corner of the screen
- “Maximize” – Make the video full screen
- “Exit” or “Close player” – Close the video but leave YouTube open
- “Play on…” or “Connect to…” – then say “TV,” “Chromecast,” or “Console” to stream YouTube to the device of your choice. Follow this with “Disconnect from…” one of the above devices to stop streaming.
- “Skip ads” – The greatest voice command of them all!
WhatsApp, Hangouts, Telegram, Viber, and Other Messaging Apps
Just as you can dictate and send a text message using your default messaging app, you can use just about any other messaging app using Google Now. Below are some examples:
- “Send a [WhatsApp] to Dad”
- “Send a message to [Mom] with [Telegram]”
- “Send a message with [WhatsApp]”
If you manage crucial things like bills, flights, and meetings through your Gmail, you can access them using Google Now directly from the Android homescreen. Examples include:
- “Show me my receipts”
- “Show me my bills”
- “What time is my flight?”
- “Where is my hotel?”
You can search through your entire Google Drive folder from your Android homescreen by opening Google Now and saying “Search Drive for” followed by the name of the file (or even text within a file) you want to search for.
From the homescreen you can use the travel companion app Tripadvisor using Google Now by saying “Show me nearby [attractions] in Tripadvisor.” You can replace the word in brackets with more specific attractions such as museums, restaurants and beaches.
Having to open the Calendar app to schedule things can be a chore, so there are several voice commands you can use directly from the Android homescreen.
- “Create a calendar event,” then follow the instructions using your voice.
- “What is my schedule for [today/tomorrow/another date]?”
- “When is my next event?”
Other Useful Google Now Commands
Set reminders for yourself from the homescreen to do anything from sit-ups in the morning to emptying the bins every Thursday at 3pm. You can even set location-based reminders such as “Remind me when I get to Paris to visit the Eiffel Tower.” For the reminders to work you’ll need to have Now cards enabled (Settings -> Google -> Search & Now -> Now cards -> Show cards).
Parking location reminder
Did you know that Google knows when you’ve parked your car and walked away from it? No, that doesn’t mean it’s snooping on you from behind a hedgerow. Instead, it works out how fast you’re moving, then when it detects that you’ve switched from driving to walking, it sets a parking location reminder at the top of your Now notification list (accessed by holding the Home button or saying “Ok, Google”).
Check the weather
You can check the weather using a number of voice commands through Google Now:
- “What’s the weather like?”
- “Do I need an umbrella today?” (Unfortunately, the crucial “Is it shorts weather today?” isn’t a recognized command… yet.)
- “Will it rain [today/tomorrow/another future date]?”
- “What will the weather be in [location] [today/tomorrow/another future date]?”
Maps and navigation
You can use Google Now to instantly get directions via Google Maps.
- “Where is [landmark/restaurant name/street name/any location marked on Google Maps]?”
- “Directions to [landmark/restaurant name/street name/any location marked on Google Maps].” You can further add “by [bike/car/foot/public transport]” to the end of the above command.
- “How far is [location name] from [another location name]?”
These are just some of the lesser-known, yet extremely handy, Google Now commands out there, but people uncover new things in this underrated feature all the time. Have you unearthed any incredible Now discoveries yourself? Be sure to let us know in the comments below!
Image credit: By Logan (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons