So, as a follow-up to Bonnie Cha’s Re/code column about Siri a couple weeks ago, this column is a series of tips and tricks that might help users understand and fully utilize Google Now.* Google Now is free.
It runs on any smartphone running Android 4.1 or later (and on some other devices, which I’ll explain below).
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On some hardware, like Google’s own Nexus 5, you can also swipe left from the home screen and see your Google Now data, but this is only on certain phones. You can make this even more precise by telling the app whether you normally get around by car, bike, walking or train.
(On the Samsung Galaxy S5 that I’ve been using, a swipe from the left brings me to a Samsung-made Flipboard-like app instead.) In many ways, Google Now works similarly to Siri. To do this, go into Google Now, scroll all the way to the bottom of your cards, and tap the magic wand.
For the uninitiated: You can dictate texts and emails, ask for driving directions, have it read you your daily schedule, book reservations for some restaurants, and search for facts and trivia. Then, in the Customize menu, select “Everything else,” and there you’ll see an option to tell Google how you usually get around.
It will begin to calculate your commute based on this information.
I took a handful of photos in downtown San Francisco last week, which were auto-uploaded to G , and when I asked Google Now to show me my photos from San Francisco, it told me there were no matching photos.