Google has condensed the best of its digital abilities into a single smartphone app: The standalone Google app, available on iOS and Android, functions mostly as a high-powered search tool. But it also brings a host of capabilities right to your screen, and you can take advantage of them almost entirely with your voice.
After downloading and installing it, enable Google Now in order to get the most use out of it — this is a service that brings to life a host of capabilities, like location sharing, that maximize the app’s potential. Once you’re up and running, here are some great tricks you can implement with nothing but your voice.
There’s no button to push in order to summon the search behemoth’s in-app attention. Just speak “Hello, Google” — when the app dings, you’ll know you have its attention. Then you only need to say, in simple language, what you need. It’s a phrase that summons an eager-to-serve information butler.
“Remind me to talk to Fred when I arrive at work.”
With location services enabled, Google knows when you’re in your kitchen and when you’re at the office. This means its reminder capability can be geographically set — you don’t know exactly when you’ll be at work, but you can trigger a bunch of work-related reminders as soon as you walk in the door, at home or work.
“What’s 5,256 times 14?”
Forget punching calculator keys. Speak your math problems aloud and smile with satisfaction at how accurately the app understands your query and gives you the correct answer. (The answer is 73,584, by the way.) It will even do various conversions: “How many tablespoons in six cups?” There’s no longer a need to make elaborate kitchen conversions when you’re making dinner or cocktails.
“How many calories are in a slice of cheesecake?”
For anyone tracking their caloric intake, Google’s got you covered.
“Where am I?”
Though the question might ripple with existential undertones, it’s also one that has a factually correct answer. During those times when the answer to this question evades you, let Google’s brilliant mapping capabilities be your guide.
“Where’s the nearest grocery store?”
As it knows where you are and it knows where all manner of stores and shops are, Google can quickly connect you with the nearest whatever-it-is you need. Ask it for coffee, gas, snacks, whatever your heart desires. It will get you there.
“What song is playing right now?”
There’s no need to fumble for your Shazam app. Put Google’s “ears” to the test at identifying most popular music, which it does rather accurately.
“How do I say ‘Hello, how are you?’ in Russian?”
Get translations for basic phrases on the fly. In situations where you wouldn’t even dare to try to pronounce the translation yourself, Google will say it for you. Order your breakfast in the local tongue and greet natives with confidence, no matter where you are.
“How long is my drive home?”
Get directions and a traffic preview in a flash. Google’s traffic data incorporates live, crowdsourced info on crashes and other delays from Waze. And the app’s algorithms harness all of this to not only put you on the best possible route, but to tell you how long of a journey lies ahead of you.
“Pictures of otters.”
Anything that Google doesn’t recognize as a specific voice request, it processes as a Google search. You can initiate any Google search you want by speaking the search terms.