Google has announced an update to its search application that will bring its mobile search experience more in line with the Material Design aesthetic that has been slowly spreading across its other own-brand apps. However, this update also brings some added improvements for its conversational search functionality.
According to Wednesday’s announcement, Nexus 6, Nexus 9 or Samsung Galaxy Note 4 users will be able to launch the ‘OK Google’ search assistant even when the phone’s display is off. That means you don’t need to pick up your phone and activate the screen before you can ask Google what the weather is like or to convert a measurement.
You can also now ask Google to flip a coin to help you decide between two dining options or which movie to see, and a new Google Now card will prompt you to set reminders for events that may have cropped up in your Gmail (like dinner plans or meetings that you never put in your calendar).
Lastly, OK Google now boasts the ability to search third-party apps, so if you want to search Tumblr for pictures of Taylor Swift, Google will take you directly to the Tumblr application. The same is true of queries relating to TripAdvisor, real estate app Trulia, and YouTube. Presumably support for other apps will arrive over time.
All of these updates will be rolled out to devices running Android Lollipop, which means you likely won’t be seeing it for a while (unless you have a Nexus 9 or plan to pre-order a Nexus 6 on November 18th). Still, it’s good to know what’s on the horizon for Google search on mobile.