Apps & Software

Google's Game-Changing Announcement -- and No, It's Not Google Pay

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Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL) is about to wrap up its I/O developer conference, and the company announced a blizzard of new products and features on Thursday. The most prominent is its mobile payment scheme Google Pay. If that sounds to you like the company is playing catch-up with Apple and its Apple Pay system, you are probably right.

Google also announced something that is far more important — at least for Google. The company showed off a new feature for its Google Now notification dashboard/assistant for Android. Called Google Now on Tap, the feature provides users with the ability to retrieve additional information related to whatever app the users happen to be using at the time. The feature lives in a layer of the Android operating system that is hierarchically above any app, and Now on Tap uses that status to peek into whatever it is a user is doing, provided there is some text or data it can look at.

For example, if you are using WhatsApp to chat with friends about a new restaurant, Now on Tap could provide more information about the restaurant and might even help with getting a reservation without requiring you to switch apps.

This is a big deal for Google because it puts search back at the center of user computing, and this time in mobile computing. It is no secret that Google’s search dominance has come to mean less as computing gets more mobile. The company is still a mobile advertising powerhouse, but search does not dominate mobile because there has been no way easily to search for something from inside an app. Now there is.

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