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Now on Tap, Google's Mobile Search Trojan Horse, Is Out of the Gate

Bring down those walls (between apps).


At its developer conference in May, Google unboxed Now on Tap, a feature that brings its mobile personal assistant and massive search database into apps. The feature is rolling out soon, coming first to Nexus phones and then to other Androids on the newest operating system for that platform, Marshmallow.

An example: Texting with a friend about dinner and a movie, you can use Now on Tap to call up info on the restaurant from other apps without leaving the one you’re in. For Google, it is designed to smooth out what the company sees as a clunky, closed-off world of apps. In an earlier interview with Re/code, Aparna Chennapragada, Google Now’s director of product management, said it allows smartphones to “do a lot more heavy lifting.”

Now on Tap
Now on Tap

Now on Tap is Google’s most assertive move yet to position itself as the sticky web that connects apps as it grapples with ways to make more ad revenue from mobile. If Android users grow fond of the new feature, it would help propel Google’s efforts to index a wider array of apps. Of course, Google is not alone. Microsoft has a similar tool with Bing search, which it released on Android. There’s a wave of startups working on in-app search. Plus, there’s Apple, which has its own vision and ever-opaque agenda for mobile search.

Expect these issues to crop up this week when Amit Singhal, Google’s SVP of search, takes the stage at our Code/Mobile conference.

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