It appears that Google may be testing a new feature within Google Now, as some users are reporting that circular shortcut buttons are showing up towards the top of the page and just under the search bar upon opening up the Google app. Since not everyone is seeing these shortcuts pop up on their Google Now screen, it seems that the feature is something that Google is turning on server side for some users. Having said that, if it is the case that this is a server side switch then it could be a little while before more users begin to see these search shortcuts if Google even decides to keep them.
While it's not entirely clear if these will end up changing at any point in time, for now the shortcuts appear to be for things like weather, dining, movies, and shopping, and when tapping one of these round buttons users will end up getting the same results as they would if they had simply typed up a search query asking for one of those categories. Essentially this is just meant to save users time and from having to actually type up the search for these results, which, while it might only save a few seconds, it might be infinitely easier if a user's hands are full and don't have the opportunity to type up a search but they do have the ability to tap a button.
Alongside providing users with quicker access to these specific searches, it appears that the shortcut buttons cause smart cards and results to show up in Google Now, and it's mentioned that users are seeing these shortcut buttons inside of the stable Google app as well as the beta version. With Google testing the shortcut buttons inside of Now, it's another tested feature that may be showing up alongside the new Dashboard feature that is being tested and has been showing up for some users since earlier this month. Again, since this appears to be a server side thing that Google themselves are enabling, there is no app update for users to download in hopes of seeing this feature surface.