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You’ll Want Android Marshmallow for This One New Feature

Now on Tap extends the power of Google Now across all of Android.
Image: Google

Google is now beginning to roll out Android 6.0, also known as Marshmallow, the latest version of the company's mobile operating system. Adventurous owners of the Nexus 5, 6, 7 (2013), and 9 can download and install the OS directly from Google now, while more mild mannered Nexus owners can sit back and wait for the update to be pushed out over the air.

Exactly when Marshmallow will become available to other devices, unfortunately, is up to the manufacturers and wireless carriers (but you knew that already).

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So then, what's the marquee feature of Android 6.0 (which Google refers to as the "sweetest, smartest Android version yet") that will have you continually going to your smartphone's "check for updates" setting? That would be Now on Tap.

Image: Google

The feature, announced at Google I/O earlier this year, lets users "dig deeper" into their apps, allowing them to extract useful information on just about anything that's being displayed by the app at the moment. In Google's own examples, users are able to tap down and hold the home button to do things like pull up reviews and directions to a restaurant mentioned in a Gmail; pull up movie times for a movie recommended by a friend in a text message; or directly link to the Twitter account of Elon Musk in a news story viewed in Chrome about the Tesla Motors CEO.

Apple's iOS 9 doesn't quite have Now on Tap, but its closest analogue, called Proactive (accessed by swiping from the left from the user's home screen), does do things like scan your calendar for upcoming meetings, then bring up the contact information of people who will be attending.

Of course, Google's upcoming Nexus 5X and 6P smartphones will ship with Marshmallow, giving access to Now on Tap right out of the box.