Google Now, the mind-reading personal assistant for iOS and Android, has seen a lot of updates lately, making it the perfect smartphone companion for...well, anything. Here's a list of the coolest stuff it can do.
Google Now does is releasing new features all the time. For an up to date list of what it can do — and how to enable the different cards — check out Google's list of cards available in Now (and a list of some services it integrates with).
Keep Your Commute Simple
You spend a lot of time driving (or taking public transport) between work, events, seeing friends, and everything else. Google Now can make it a lot easier. If you enter your work address in its settings, it will always let you know how long it will take to get there, so you don't get unexpectedly caught in traffic. It supports driving and public transport, and will even remember where you parked or tell you when the last train leaves. You can even share your commute with your family and friends, so they can check up on when you're due home.
Keep An Eye On Stocks And Sports
You probably already know about this one, since it's been there since the beginning. By entering your favourite sports teams and most-followed stocks in Now's settings, you can get an update on how your team is winning, how your stocks are plummeting, or vice versa. It will also track stocks you've searched for and ones you're tracking on Google Finance. (And yes, Australian stocks and teams are included.)
Travel Without Stress
If you're leaving town, Google Now knows it — and can provide you with a lot of useful information. If you're flying, it will keep track of your flight (using information from your email confirmation), and let you know when to leave the airport. It will also help you out with hotel information, car rentals, show you nearby places and events, photo spots, and — if you're out of the country — even provide you with cards for translation and currency conversion. Basically, any time you're out of town, pull up Google Now and it will have everything you might need at the ready.
See How Far You've Walked (Or Biked)
If you have Location Reporting and Location History enabled on your phone, Google Now will pop up a card once a month that estimates how far you've walked or biked, based on your phone's accelerometer (Android only). Just remember: if you have these features enabled, that means Google is logging everywhere you go, so make sure you're comfortable with that before you turn it on.
Keep Up With Your Favourite Web Sites
You probably know that Google Now will give you information on things you've recently searched, but it can do more than that. It will also alert you of breaking news, storm warnings, and other important developments. Plus, you can tell it to keep you up to date on certain people or let you know when your favourite blog updates with a new post.
Get Reminders Anytime, Anywhere
As if all the above weren't enough, you can tell Google Now to remind you of just about anything, right when you need it the most. Bring up Google Now and tell it to remind you of something at a certain time, or when you reach a certain location. For example, you could have it "Remind me to call Mum in an hour" or "Remind me to take out the trash when I get home." If you have events in Google Calendar, it will remind you when they're happening — and, if they have a location, when you should leave to get there on time. It will even remind you when you have bills you need to pay.
Ask Your Phone Anything
Google Now does most of the above on its own, but you can ask it just about anything and get a smart answer, too. Google Now's voice commands can do anything from make conversions to defining words to telling you who the president of the United States is. Here are some examples of awesome stuff you can ask it, and here's an infographic of the different commands it can answer to, including calling people, navigating you somewhere, or playing music from a certain artist.