Google o≠ers ‘shortcuts’ to data, tools
san francisco» Google wants to make it easier for you to find answers and recommendations on smartphones without having to think about what to ask its search engine.
Its new feature, called shortcuts, will appear as a row of icons below the Google search box. Instead of having to ponder and then speak or type a request, the shortcuts will let you tap the icons to get the latest weather, movie showtimes, sports scores, restaurant recommendations and other common requests.
The shortcuts will begin appearing Tuesday in updates to Google’s app for iPhones, Android phones and its mobile website. The Android app also will include various tools such as a currency converter, a language translator and an ATM locator, which you can also summon with a tap. Those tools eventually may make it to the iPhone as well.
The changes are the latest step in Google’s quest to turn its search engine into a secondary brain that anticipates people’s needs and desires. The search engine gleans these insights by analyzing your past requests and, when you allow it, tracking your location, a practice that periodically raises privacy concerns about Google’s power to create digital profiles of its users.
Based on the knowledge that Google already has accumulated, its shortcuts feature already may list your favorite sports teams or recommend nearby restaurants serving cuisines you prefer.
A smartphone screen grab shows the new shortcuts feature.