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7 helpful ways to use Google Now on Tap

Here are some practical ways to get more out out of the embedded Google search feature on your Android device.

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Google Now on Tap can help you do searches faster, without actually typing anything into Google.

Taylor Martin/CNET

Among the new features announced with the current version of Android last year was Google Now on Tap, an extension of Google Now and Google search to practically every possible screen on your smartphone.

While the feature was received with quite a bit of fanfare, it's not always as practical as Google would have you believe. It's very hit or miss. Often giving you no useful search cards when you would expect it to.

However, there are some situations where Google Now on Tap shines and makes what would normally be a multistep process just a tap or click away. Here's how to get the most out of Google Now on Tap.

Find out when your favorite band is playing

I can never keep up with when my favorite bands are in town or on tour. But with Google Now on Tap, you can quickly check for upcoming shows or concerts by long-pressing the home button when listening to an artist in a music app like Google Play Music or Spotify, or while viewing their Facebook page. Once the card for the band or artist appears, scroll all the way to the right. If upcoming tour dates are available, you will see an option called Events. Tap this to icon to bring up more information.

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Find a music video for a song

If you're listening to a specific song in a music app, bringing up Google Now on Tap will provide quite a bit of information on both the band and song. If there's one available, it will also provide a direct link to the official music video on YouTube. When you tap this icon, YouTube will launch, the video will load and it will begin playing.

Create a calendar event

If you're trying to make plans with friends, queueing up Google Now on Tap will suggest creating a new event in your calendar. If you tap the card, your default calendar will open, jump to creating a new event and input the details discovered by Google Now. Tweak the information (such as location and time) and save the event.

I've found that Google Now on Tap is spotty when picking up on possible calendar entries, only catching very obvious phrases, such as "today at 2" or "tomorrow for lunch." When being more vague, as is typical in casual conversation, it doesn't always pick up on suggested times as calendar entries.

Get more information on news stories

If you keep seeing the same story pop up in your news feeds and you don't know the backstory, you can quickly find it with Google Now on Tap, which is surprisingly great and providing some context on different stories, people, events and more.

Check package tracking

Google Now will automatically track packages for you as it finds valid tracking numbers in your inbox. However, if you're viewing a tracking number on a website or a friend sends you a tracking number in a chat, you can quickly track the package without having to copy and paste the tracking number. Instead, just summon Google Now on Tap and tap Track [carrier] Package.

Search for product reviews

Amazon product reviews aren't always the most reliable or trustworthy writings. Often, old Amazon listings get repurposed for new (and sometimes completely unrelated) products by the same company. The issue of paid or incentivized reviews also exists, and some reviews just aren't reliable.

However, using Google Now on Tap, you can jump to a Google search or YouTube for more professional reviews of the product you're looking at in any online store. For the record, the Google search option is recommended, as the YouTube shortcut is usually a wildcard and doesn't always find the best possible review video for a product.

Place dinner reservations

If you're on the Facebook page of a restaurant, someone mentions it in a chat or you're on their website but can't find a way to book a reservation, make sure you have the OpenTable app installed on your Android device and long press on the home button. If the restaurant is available on OpenTable, you can also then jump into booking a reservation from Google Now on Tap.