One of the many new highlighted features of the Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) operating system that was introduced at Google I/O a couple of weeks ago and that comes pre-installed on your Nexus 7 tablet is 'Google Now'. Since its introduction there seems to be a bit of confusion as to exactly what 'Google Now' is...with some well-known tech publications (BusinessInsider/Slashgear..cough..cough) actually getting it wrong and confusing 'Google Now' with the voice activated 'assistant'. It's actually a bit understandable why some might be unclear what 'Google Now' is because at first glance it actually sounds a tad confusing but I'm here to shed a little light and 'clarity' on the issue.
Ok, so what exactly is 'Google Now'? 'Google Now' is in essence a 'predictive' technology that uses contextual information such as current location, location history, web history, calendar and appointment information, and more to bring you information on your device that could be valuable or useful to you 'automatically'. By automatically I mean that you, the user, doesn't actually have to do a search, either through text or voice to get the information. Your device, in this case the Nexus 7, once Google Now is activated, will be noting what you typically do each day...such as what appointments you have, what modes of travel you use, what things you do and where and at what time you do them. It even will note things such as what sports scores you look up so that it can 'automatically' have the scores available for you when the next game is played...all without you even asking.
This video might make things a bit clearer and I'll go into some specific examples after you view it:
Now 'Google Now' is in essence a form of 'artificial intelligence' technology and more to the point is kind of like an always on assistant that notes what your usual patterns and interests and activities are each day and creates a predictive model of your behavior. So the more and the longer that you use it...the better it gets. If you have certain types of restaurants or foods you like it will potentially tell you...around mealtime...what options are close by that you might be interested in. 'Google Now' can also know when you leave for work in the morning and if you're running late...it can warn you and give you a message to get going.
Now Google's engineers have put each separate capability on what it calls 'cards'. With this initial launch they're starting with 10 'cards'...but more are promised. The initial 10 are:
Get traffic conditions and alternate routes before you leave for work. Google Now also puts traffic to your next likely destination at your fingertips.
When you’re near a bus stop or a subway station, Google Now tells you what buses or trains are next.
When you have an appointment, Google Now checks traffic so you can know how long it'll take to get there. You even get a notification for when you should leave.
Google Now keeps you up to date on flight delays and traffic conditions to the airport for flights you've recently searched for.
Google Now keeps you updated on your favorite sports teams in real time, with live scores and upcoming games. You can even can buy game tickets on the fly.
When you’re on the go, Google Now will suggest nearby bars, restaurants, and places of interest. You can quickly jump to Google Maps to get more info, reviews, or even make a reservation.
When you start your day, Google Now shows weather for your current location and work.
Google Now helps you find just the right word when you're away from home.
Use Google Now to quickly check the local conversion rate when you're traveling.
Time at home
When you're in a different time zone, Google Now shows you the time at home so you never feel too far away.
Now it's a bit unclear how far Google's engineers are going to go with this technology but let's look at some of the almost infinite possibilities for a minute.
*Let's say you have your spouse's birthday coming up and you've noted it in your calendar. 'Google Now' could remind you to buy her/him a present.
*If you have a meeting scheduled for early the next morning and it's 1am and your walking around Manhattan, 'Google Now' could conceivably 'remind' you that you might want to get some shuteye to be fresh for that next morning's meeting.
*As they mention in the video, 'Google Now' can notify you about sports scores but imagine if you could set it up to notify you when a stock reached a certain buy or sell price or when a new piece of electronics you've been waiting for has gone on sale at an eStore or even when that girl you had a crush on changes her status to 'single' on Facebook.
In other words while 'Google Now' is a new product and is limited to some useful travel and basic daily appt and location uses for now, in time this could really be an amazing 'always there' personal assistant type technology. It could easily be combined with Google's voice 'Assistant' to bring a 'Siri' (Apple's personal assistant) on steroids type of experience that would be far more powerful because it wouldn't rely on you asking anything. It just would know your life, interests and plans so well it would always be on top of things before you even had a chance to ask. Depending on which 'cards' they decide to add in the future you could build a customized experience that would enable...and encourage your own specific goals. It could conceivably be almost a combination assistant/life coach. The fact that the Nexus 7 is the first device to get this amazing new technology is a big part of why I'm so excited to receive mine. It should be a lot of fun playing around with the potential of 'Google Now' and I expect we'll have lots of discussions about it in the forum.
So what do you think about 'Google Now'? Cool or creepy? What potential uses do you see for using this 'predictive' technology?Google Now