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Google is making it easier to plan your night in or out

Daniel Howley
Technology Editor
Google has updated its Android and iOS apps to make it easier to find what you want as fast as possible.

Google (GOOG, GOOGL) wants to make searching the web on your smartphone a bit easier with new shortcuts for its Android, iOS and web apps. The shortcuts, which will appear just below the search bar in the Google app, will provide users with quick access to things like the weather, entertainment, places to eat and drink and sporting events in your area.

The idea is to make it easier to quickly find information related to movies or sports teams in the news. For instance, if you tap on the Entertainment shortcut, you’ll see tabs for things like recent news, TV shows on tonight and movies playing in theaters. Tap one of those movies and you’ll see reviews, ticket sales and more.

So when you plop down on the couch with your significant other you won’t have to have a 10-minute back-and-forth about what’s on tonight. Instead, you can open the app, see what’s on and have a 10-minute back-and-forth about what you should actually watch.

The new Google app gives you quick access to the latest news from your favorite sports teams.

Google says the Eat & Drink tab will provide you with restaurant recommendations based on the time of day and what kind of food you want to cram into your face hole, as well as lists of new places to check out. The Sports tab, meanwhile, gives you a shortcut to news, scores and game times for your favorite teams.

A lot of these features are already available within the Google app, but you have to do a bit of digging and browsing to get to them. The update makes doing so just a bit easier. It’s also a clear shot at competing apps like Yelp, Fandango and others.

To be honest, though, I’m most interested in the smaller shortcuts Google is adding to the app — including a currency calculator, solitaire game, tip calculator, a virtual roll of a die and animal sounds.

Most people will probably find the tip calculator incredibly helpful, especially when going out to eat in groups. We all know that one person who tries to nickel and dime the server, and this could be a great way to get them to pony up the extra cash for their meal. Or you could just stop inviting them out to eat.

What about that animal sound shortcut? Well, who hasn’t wanted to make a hyper-accurate goat sound in a crowded elevator? No one, that’s who.

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Email Daniel at dhowley@yahoo-inc.com; follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.