Q. My Android tablet recently got the Google Assistant update, but I find I miss pressing the Home button to get the little box that used to pop up with the search icons for more information about people and places on the Chrome page I was reading. Now I just get the Google Assistant asking if I want help. Is there a way to get the old feature back?
A. The Google Now on Tap feature, introduced for Android devices in 2015, was designed to save time by quickly getting you more information about a topic already on your screen — like the name of an actor in a movie review or details about a restaurant mentioned in an email message. Pressing the Home button brought up a box of icons for Google Search, Google Maps, YouTube and other places to learn more about the names and places on the screen. When you finished your research, you just needed to tap the Back button to return to what you were doing before.
Even if you have downloaded and installed the Google Assistant on your tablet or Android phone, you can still get a version of the screen search shortcut with the Google Assistant. A shortcut for taking a screenshot is also available.
So when you press and hold the Home button on a Chrome page (or other text screen) and the Google Assistant panel pops up with its “How can I help?” offer, tap the “What’s on my screen?” button right below. When you do, the software displays a list of names and other searchable subjects on the screen that you can tap to visit.
If you want to capture an image of the screen you were originally viewing, tap the “Share screenshot” under the Assistant’s greeting instead. On some Pixel phones, you just need to press the Assistant button and swipe up on the screen to see search options.
If you are not seeing any search options, make sure Google Assistant has permission to scan the page for searchable content. Press and hold the home button to summon the Assistant and tap the blue-and-white icon on the right side of the screen that pops up. On the next screen, tap the three-dot More menu in the upper-right corner, select Settings and then Tablet (or Phone), and scroll down to the General area. Make sure “Use screen context” is enabled.
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