Google Now is an awesome personal assistant, but as customisation nuts (like us) might expect, it’s not exactly easy to tweak — and the recent update makes it even less so. There are, however, a number of things you can do to teach Google Now what you like and are interested in.
Add Addresses to Google Calendar Events
One of the most universally helpful cards in Google Now is the traffic card that shows you how long it will take to get to work or your appointments. In general, Google is pretty good at guessing where you’re going on a routine basis, but if you want to make sure that Google will give you a traffic card when you need it, add the event to Google Calendar and add an address. Relying on Google to guess your work schedule can be OK if you have a normal nine-to-five job, but if you have an irregular schedule, or you’re dealing with an appointment that isn’t recurring, adding an address to an event will bring up traffic information, instead of a bland appointment card.
Ask for Updates When Searching for Things Online
To be honest, the various research topic cards are pretty crummy out of the box, especially if you perform a lot of Google searches every day. However, you can steer some of these by choosing the “Keep me updated” or “Remind me” buttons on Google searches. While it only shows up on searches that have Knowledge Graph cards, it’s a good way to manually request updates on movies, TV shows, musical artists, political figures or celebrities. In the newest version of Google Now, you can see a list of these reminders by tapping the string-tied-to-a-finger icon at the bottom of your card list.
Hide (or Train) the Cards You Don’t Want
Even if you try to train Google Now to show you the topics you care about, it might still get full of junk. The method to hide cards changed in the most recent update. It’s not entirely obvious, but by tapping on the three-dot icon in the top corner of the individual cards, you get a series of questions. In some cases, tapping “No” in response to a specific question like “Are you interested in Some Topic” will result in the card disappearing right then. However, tap the right arrow as in the picture above and you can prevent the research card from showing up ever again. This same method works for any of the cards in Google Now. In fact, at least when you first start using the app, it’s probably best to answer these questions for as many cards as you get.
Add All Your Sports, Stocks and Address Information
For those of you that instinctually head to the settings menu for every app you install, you probably already know this, but you can manually add all the sports teams and stocks you’re interested in — as well as your home and work address — without waiting for Google to figure it out. Just tap on the magic wand icon at the bottom of your Google Now screen
Get Emails For Everything You’d Like to Track
You probably already know that some cards like aeroplane itineraries, car rental confirmations, hotel arrangements and package tracking are sourced from your email. However, you can also get those cards to pop up when you’re expecting visitors or someone’s sending a package to you by asking them to forward you the emails they receive. Google doesn’t care much whether, for example, a hotel reservation was made in your name or your spouse’s.
Of course, as with most of these tips, the underlying theme here is “Give Google more data”. If you’d rather not give Google any more data than you have to, in addition to avoiding these very tricks, you should probably turn off web history.
While Google Now is designed to be a learning app that doesn’t require much input (and, in fact, it often lacks some of the fine grain controls we’d like), you can still coax it into giving you the information you really need.