What are Google Now Cards? How to tailor them to your needs.

In this post, I’ll show you how to customize Google Now cards. But first, what is Google Now? The service essentially is a personal assistant. With it, you can get notifications and updates on topics that matter to you, such as apps, websites, sports, stocks, Google Play albums, and even travel notifications and bills. Google Now can also display topics based on searches you’ve made. You have control over these because you can tailor them directly to your needs.

Google Now's main screen

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Customizing

Before you can tweak Google Now, you’ll need to make sure the cards are turned on. Swipe from the left edge of the screen or tap the menu icon at the top left. Next, go to “Settings,” “Now cards,” and “Show cards,” and switch the toggle to on if it is off.

Google Now's sidebar menu
Google Now’s sidebar menu

Next, we can customize the cards. Return to the sidebar menu and click “Customize.” You should see options for apps & websites, sports, stocks, etc., possibly with some numbers next to them.

An example of customizing Google Now cards

Clicking on any one will give you relevant options for each. For example, under apps & websites, you can select whether to allow cards from apps and websites in general or even at an individual level as long as Google Now thinks you would be interested in receiving updates from that particular site.

And under anything else, Google Now will list a number of choices it thinks are relevant to your interests. It will ask a question such as, “Continue to get updates about albums?” to which you can submit “Yes” or “No.”

Periodically, Google Now will show these options on the main page if you have not answered them.

Let’s do two tasks for this example: add a sports team and add a stock.

On the “Customize” menu, click “Sports.” Then, tap “+ Add a team.” This will pull up a prompt that allows you to type the name of the team you want to follow. As you do so, suggestions of teams and icons indicating their sport appear. Select one, and it will be added to the “Interested in” section.

Adding a sports team to Google Now

The steps for adding a stock are nearly the same. The differences are that you need to click “Stocks” from the “Customize” menu, and then, you have to click “+ Add a stock.”

Adding a stock to Google Now

Moving on, at least most of the cards you see will have three, small circles (…) at their top right corners. Clicking these circles will bring up a yes or no question. If you’ve already answered it, it’ll tell how long ago it was answered. Of course, you can change your response at any time.

An example of customizing Google Now cards

Set Reminders

Google Now is able to set up reminders for events manually either from “Reminders” in the sidebar menu or by tapping the microphone icon on the main screen and telling it your command. They will appear on the main screen as their deadlines approach.

An example of a reminder in Google Now

Additionally, they can be viewed and edited from “Reminders” or the main screen.

Shipping Information

Google Now also is capable of tracking the shipment statuses of your packages through its integration with Gmail.

The service looks for online orders in your Gmail. When it finds them, it will show you a card including the package’s status (shipping versus delivered, for example), where the item originated from, and the estimated arrival date.

At the bottom, you can track the card directly and view the email that contains information about the order.

A Google Now Card of a package

Flight Information

This works similarly to how Google Now tracks packages. You’ll receive the name of the flight, its status, the email address of the flight company, and details pertaining to which terminal to go to at which airport at a specific time.

Just as before, you can view the email directly via the “View email” button at the card’s bottom.  There also is an option to navigate by GPS, with the estimated arrival time included.A Flights Google Now card

 

Website Updates

In addition, the service can update you on sites you’ve recently visited when it detects that new content is available. However, this feature is one of the hardest aspects of Google Now to really pinpoint. It isn’t very consistent, and even websites you visit frequently aren’t likely to show up, though they are more likely to show up. See the problem?

A Google Now card of a relevant website

As far as I know, you are mostly unable to control directly which sites you want to get updates from, as you can with an RSS feed. If anyone has any tips regarding this feature, shoot off in the comments below!

Conclusion

With these steps, you can make Google Now your very own ecosystem.

If you think about it, the service is not all that different than RSS. Each acts as a hub for potential sources that you want to add in order to follow them.

Google Now is more flexible in the sense that it can do more than give you just news content. However, it probably is not a complete replacement for RSS since it will not always use the same source for a particular topic. It will use the same source only if you specify to receive updates from a specific site. Also, Google Now is not all that time-sensitive with this, which is not desirable for people who like to get their news as it is released.

Although, if you have Feedly, you can integrate the news aggregator and follow content from Google Now in order to make the service a better RSS feed.

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