New Google Feature Offers Opportunities for Businesses

Google announced that Google Now on Tap is now rolling out on Nexus phones, and will hit other devices using the latest version of Android (Marshmallow) over time.

Google first unveiled Now on Tap at Google I/O earlier this year as a feature of Marshmallow. It’s basically a way for users to utilise Google Now on their own terms rather than in the confines of Google itself. That means the device will be more useful throughout more apps as they allow Now on Tap to provide users with a quick way to get information related to what they’re looking at.

As director of product management Aparna Chennapragada explained, “With ‘Now on tap,’ you can simply tap and hold the home button for assistance without having to leave what you’re doing—whether you’re in an app or on a website. For example, if a friend emails you about seeing the new movie Tomorrowland, you can invoke Google Now without leaving your app, to quickly see the ratings, watch a trailer, or even buy tickets—then get right back to what you were doing.”

“If you’re chatting with a friend about where to get dinner, Google can bring you quick info about the place your friend recommends,” Chennapragada added. “You’ll also see other apps on your phone, like OpenTable or Yelp, so you can easily make a reservation, read reviews or check out the menu.”

Google Now on Tap presents businesses with new opportunities to reach consumers through Google Now. It utilises app indexing, which Google now considers a search ranking signal as well, so you’ll have even more reason to take advantage of that.

When the user taps and holds the home button, Google presents options for its best guess of what might be helpful in the moment. If it doesn’t provide the right thing(s), the user can say, “Ok Google” from any screen or app. If it works as advertised it’s pretty smart. If you’re listening to a band on Spotify, Google says you can simply ask “who’s the lead singer?” and it will get you the answer.

As Google notes, it shows apps from your phone that may help with what you’re doing based on context. It might tap IMDb for movie review, OpenTable for reservations, etc.

Google Non on Tap should get businesses thinking more about optimising for app search.

An interesting point was made in a recent ClickZ article, which quoted Danielle Levitas, senior vice president of research and analysis for App Annie:

“Part of the reason Google is providing deep linking is to give developers another way to be discovered outside of the app store. SEO is still critical, but you’ve also got to think about ASO [App Search Optimisation], which has to do with keywords for discoverability, how an app is described, and even its reviews. But Now on Tap actually makes mobile and the app experiences easier for brands to execute because they can think about discoverability as a continuum as opposed to these two very disparate platforms.”

Google says Now on Tap another way to get apps in front of users at the right moment. If you have an app with content that people need to see, well, that applies to you. Luckily, beyond app indexing, there’s nothing else you really have to do to be integrated with Now on Tap. Just have your app indexed by Google.

As we talked about in another article on this topic, while optimising for Google via app indexing is one thing, businesses will also need to market their actual apps in other ways to drive app installs. The more people who have your app installed, the more chances they’ll have to actually see the content within via Now on Tap. As the Clickz article points out, a lot of downloaded apps are rarely opened, and Now on Tap could be just what those apps need to get more engagement from the users who downloaded them in the first place.

In other words, if you’ve found app creation to be a waste of time in the past because you didn’t think people would really use your app, this means that people may actually use it more, provided that you can convince them of its usefulness enough in the first place to get then to download it.

You might want to check out this Google Developers page on optimising content for the assistant as well.

“It’s early days but we’re excited about taking another step towards making your smartphone even smarter, by assisting you: getting you straight to the answer you need or the next step of what you’re doing,” says Chennapragada.

Once your Android device is updated to the latest version, you’ll be able to tap and hold down the home button to use Now on Tap. It’s now available in English, but will be expanded into additional languages over time.