How To Avoid Waiting In Line At Restaurants & Other Pro Google Search Hacks

Once upon a time, there was no way to instantly search for an image, location, and fact at the touch of a button. Google, of course, changed all that when it officially launched in 1998, spawning a world where you could go online to find something out, instead of reaching for the encyclopedia. Mind. Blown.

In the years since, the little search engine that could has expanded far beyond its basic look-up function, becoming the predominant map and email tool most of us couldn't imagine living without. But there are still plenty of useful updates being made to core Google search tools, including a new "fun fact" feature launching today. And, as with Snapchat and Facebook Messenger, many of Google's most fun hacks are the ones that are less obvious.

Did you know that you can flip coins, get front row fashion show seats, and play games, all from the Google search bar? Or that you can go incognito when looking up something you'd prefer be seen by your eyes only?

Ahead, we've rounded up 11 little-known features you can take advantage of now. Ok Google, show me what I've been missing.

This piece was originally published on May 10, 2017.

Courtesy of Google.
Avoid Waiting For A Table

In November 2016, Google introduced its "popular times" tool, a useful feature that shows you when stores and restaurants are likely at their busiest. Soon, you'll be able to see exactly how long you'd have to wait for a table at different restaurants in real time. Google a restaurant and scroll down to see both the peak wait time and the average amount of time people spend there (so, how long a table is occupied).

The feature is useful in the moment and when you want to plan ahead: You can see wait times by the hour, giving you a better sense of when to go to somewhere. Wait times are rolling out to Google Search first, followed by Maps.
GIF: Courtesy of Google.
Find Nearby Events At A Moment's Notice

Google is going to become your go-to event planner. Whether you're looking for a fun Friday night outing in your home city or a worthwhile afternoon activity while on vacation, the search engine has you covered. Your search can be as broad as "music events this week" or as specific as "art festivals in Nashville." Google will pull up options from places such as Eventbrite and Meetup in one easy-to-digest list. Click on any event for extra details or to go ahead and book.
Find Fun Facts

Google a living creature and "fun facts" and you'll get your standard search results plus an interesting piece of trivia at the top of the page. So, if you're locked in an intense debate about whether or not a strawberry is in fact a berry, just search "strawberry fun facts." Spoiler: It isn't.
Go Incognito

Want extra privacy while browsing? iOS users can turn on incognito browsing to ensure that their search and browsing history won't be saved. Just go into your settings to do so — and go back whenever you want to turn it off.
Pick A Color, Any Color

Design fiends will love this one. If you're in the process of decorating and want to see a specific color, just google color picker. A slider will allow you to see hues in various formats, including RGB and HSL. Or, if you want to pinpoint a paint color, search "color picker #" and add the digits of the color you want to see.
Play A Game

Like Facebook Messenger, Google has its own hidden games for when you need to waste some time or take a break at work. Search "solitaire" or "tic-tac-toe" for a moment of distraction.
Play An Animal Sound

You probably won't be using this one on a regular basis, but it comes in especially handy if you have young kids in your life. Search for the sounds of 19 animals (ask "what does ____ say?"), including bowhead whales, zebras, and turtles, and hear them speak their language.
Make A Decision

If you need to make a clutch decision and don't have a die or coin on hand, Google "flip a coin" or "roll a die." The toss will take place on screen — whether it's the right way to go is up to you.
Get Medical Insights

Not sure why your tooth is aching? Search a symptom to find out more about the potential cause, see related health conditions, and learn more to decide if a visit to the doctor is warranted.
Find A New Recipe

Start with the simplest of recipes — i.e. roasted butternut squash — and Google will present you with multiple ways to take the dish to the next level. Just click the keywords that appear at the top of the screen, including pasta or chicken, to see fresh ideas for making your meal.
Stay On Beat

If you're trying to learn a new instrument, Google "metronome." A digitized version of the old-school wooden tool will keep you in rhythm.