We already know that Android 7 Nougat brings some pretty cool changes, such as bundled notifications, under-the-hood performance and battery improvements, split-screen, and more. But it seems Google is also taking care to rebrand some of its features, probably to make them friendlier to newcomers. Version 6.5.26 of the beta Google Search app rolled out last night, and while at first the changes seemed minimal, there’s one thing that is of particular interest: all references to Google Now have been removed.
For example, “Now cards” has been switched to “Feed” and “Now on Tap” is now known simply as “Screen search.” You may recall that Google Now has been one of the most important and innovative software features that Google has ever released to mobile, so to see the brand or name of it disappear is odd, to say the least.
This isn’t exactly surprising since we know Google will be launching a new app, Google Assistant pitched as being about giving you contextual and predictive information before you knew you wanted it… which is exactly what Google Now does. It was never clear how Google Now would fit in alongside Assistant. Google Assistant is the way forward however, Assistant would make far more sense as an umbrella term for all the various features Now has come to embody over the years, and Google’s use of the Assistant branding in apps like Inbox and Photos made it look as though the “Now” name would never really break out of the Search app. Today, that seems essentially confirmed.
Another noticeable change is in the ‘In Apps‘ search. Those that have followed Nougat’s development closely will be happy to know that the new beta adds a shortcut to the In Apps search. First introduced with the LG V20, this nifty little icon will open a Google search that only looks through your apps. All users can now add a shortcut to access In Apps directly from the homescreen. Navigating to Settings > In Apps shows an option at the very top to “Add to home screen.”
With one fell swoop, you can look for a piece of text through emails, SMS messages, Chrome tabs, Google Keep, Music, and more. The In Apps search was accessible before via the regular Google Search app but was a bit finicky to get to.
The ‘Now’ name might be dead but it’s handy features live on with more generic names than a mini brand of and in themselves.