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Google makes Inbox app and Maps smarter
January 31, 2016, 2:09 pm
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Google sees integration of its services and constant improvements to its offering as a way of keeping users glued to the search giant. In its most recent move, Google has made it much easier to find orders, reservations, flights, and other information hidden inside your email. Now when you perform a search inside Inbox — its alternate app for Gmail — the app will try to present you with exactly what you are looking for, rather than just giving you a list of relevant emails.

If you search for an upcoming flight, for instance, Inbox should present you with a card that lists your flight information; Google says Inbox can also find addresses, phone numbers, membership numbers, events, bills, and package tracking details all through the new search feature.

For the most part, this new feature just helps to surface something that Inbox is already doing: pulling out the most important parts of your email in the form of cards. However, being able to get the card you want just by searching for it should be a huge help when you need to pull something up quickly — for instance, to find flight confirmations, check-ins, and car rental info while approaching a customer service counter.

Some of the things that Inbox can surface through search appear to be new to the app, too. Membership numbers do not make sense to highlight in your inbox, but being able to pull them out when requested makes sense; same goes for addresses and phone numbers. Of course, Inbox will still display search results, too, they will just appear below the highlighted card. The update appears to be rolling out gradually, with Google's blog post saying the feature will start to go live this week.

Meanwhile, Google has added a new feature to Maps for Android that could make its navigation software even smarter. Called ‘Driving Mode’, the new Maps mode will take into account your history and current location to try and determine your destination and then suggest info about your route such as travel times and traffic conditions. It appears to be similar to the algorithmic suggestions offered up in Google Now cards, yet tailored for getting around by car and even when you already know how to get there. You will be able to launch Driving Mode with an app icon shortcut or through Maps' in-app sidebar. Google Maps version 9.19, the one with Driving Mode, is in the process of being pushed to the Play Store and may not be widely available for some time. 

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