Google Now was for me one of those surprising features added to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. I could immediately see the benefit of having your device anticipate the information you need in a context sensitive way: our devices are aware of where we are, what we usually do and at what time, and Google's servers can look through our email to figure out what we've been discussing or emailing about. Google Now can do a number of different things from remind us of appointments, give us a likely time of a regular or one-off trip, both private and public transport. It will tell us when parcels are due and even provide a link to the tracking service. It's quickly become one of the most commonly used applications on my devices and when I make the move to a smartwatch, it'll gel together with the wearable too. The Google Now service is tied together using the Google Search application, which includes the Google Now screen. And there are a number of ways to access Google Now on our Android devices including a swipe up from the home icon, long hold of the hardware home key, swipe from the left to the right on our launcher, or saying "Okay Google."
Not everybody uses Google Now, or of those who do, they don't always use the same way into the application as I might do and unfortunately, there's no native way to adjust the home - swipe - up gesture. I still use this gesture on my Android devices but if I am using a launcher that supports Google Now off to the side, I'll usually tap the home key and scroll across to the side. Wouldn't it be nice if we could use that home - swipe - up gesture for something else? We can, we need to use a third party application and this is where I'm going to introduce Now Gesture Tweaks, developed by XDA Senior Member SpadaBoss. Now Gesture Tweaks allows the user to customize how the device behaves when either long pressing the physical home button or swiping up from the home software button. The application is available in both free and paid-for guises; the free version includes the core functionality including the ability to display all of your applications on the device or launching a custom one of these by default. The full version includes the ability to open the camera, kill background processes, clean the application cache, toggle screen autorotation, WiFi, Bluetooth or automatic brightness or enter the location services section. There's a "do nothing" enabled for users who temporarily don't want to use the application and if you're using a rooted device, the full version also includes the ability to take a screenshot. Finally, if your device doesn't support either Google Now commands, you can trigger the application using a small widget for your homescreen. Check the video below this article.
Replacing the default Google Now gesture is a simple but ingenious idea, and one that this application will allow us to tailor the device to suit our particular needs. The application thread on XDA already has many great ideas for the developer, such as a lockscreen-type arrangement with a choice of applications to be run. Do you use Google Now but tend to access it a different way than the swipe-up gesture, or the hold home key commands? Or do you not use Google Now? If you fancy trying the application, do let us know how you get on in the comments below.