Now on Tap has received a number of new features in the past year, but the contextual assistant has yet to really take off for a number of reasons. Today, Google has started A/B testing a new feature that adds a number of useful shortcuts and quick links to Now on Tap.
For some users on version 6.0 of the Google app, activating Now on Tap on the homescreen or app launcher will reveal a row of shortcuts to various Google tasks, including: new reminder, create event, set an alarm, start timer, navigate to work, and navigate home. Pressing any of the shortcuts will open the same interface in the Google app as when users ask via voice commands.
A second row helps users look for nearby places of interests. Choosing any will again perform a Google Search rather than open up the Maps app. In the past, activating Now on Tap on the homescreen would always bring up the “Nothing on Tap” dialogue. The shortcuts only appear on the homescreens and not on any other screen, even if Now on Tap does not have anything to surface.
Also new in version 6.0 is the ability to disable Google Now cards while still being able to continue using Now on Tap. These new shortcuts show up on version 6.0 and above of the Google app that is currently in the beta channel.
In a recent update, Google redesigned Now on Tap with a new bottom bar that makes it easier to share a screenshot and highlight specific text to perform a search. On Tap also recently added OCR features.