Google Now Is Making Phones Truly Smart

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This post was published 5 years, 5 months ago. Due to the rapidly evolving world of technology, some material it contains may no longer be applicable.

I’m going to start this article off with quite a bold statement. If your phone doesn’t have Google Now, it isn’t really a smartphone.

How so? Well for me, being smart isn’t associated with how many apps you can use, or being able to answer your phone by waving at it. No for me, smart means something completely different. My definition of smart, in the case of phones, is the ability to make your life easier without any prompting from the user. Google Now does this on an unprecedented scale. 

For example, there’s the simple business of parking your car. If you’re in a busy car park or somewhere new, it can be easy to lose it. But Google Now has you covered. It uses your device’s sensors to determine when you’re driving, and then once it figures out you’ve stopped it stores the GPS co-ordinates and creates a card offering to take you back there. Sorted.

Android also has APIs for calculating accurate altitude on devices with a barometer and humidity sensor so perhaps it will soon also be able to count the floors you ascend and descend in a multi-storey and remind you which floor you were on as well!

Then there’s its ability to remind you of bills, reservations and appointments exactly when you need to be reminded. It uses your Gmail, calendar and social networks to determine when certain events are, how important they may be and when you’ll need to be reminded. When it comes to reservations and appointments, it can give you directions to the location where they are taking place and tell you when you need to leave your house to get there on time based on your preferred method of travel (even if your choice is by dragon!). If you’re using public transport, it can tell you what bus or train to take and even wake you up when you arrive at your stop so you don’t make an embarrassing trip to the bus depot!

Is there a website that you visit a lot? Do you sometimes forget to check for new content and then miss something you’d have enjoyed? Google Now monitors frequently visited websites, especially bookmarked sites, and creates a card informing you of the new content. Not just on your phone but on your tablet and your desktop too or in fact any device on which you are signed into your Google account. For example, if you often search for a particular blonde haired singer/songwriter who has a passion for high-waisted shorts and red lipstick, it will create information cards about her telling you when she releases a new piece of absolute musical perfection  album, or appears on a TV show. If you watch a certain TV show regularly, or often search for a certain muscle-car that sounds like the god of thunder gargling with hammers, it will create cards giving you news on those subjects.* In some places it can given listen to your TV show or movie with you, recognise it and tell you exciting trivia about it and/or the actors it features.

Are you a keen photographer? Well if you are, Google once again has you covered. For years now, devices have geo-tagged the photos you take on them. Google Now takes advantage of all the pictures that are uploaded to their services so that if you near a location where a lot of photos are taken, it will create a card with a selection of photos, and directions to the detected photo spot because it knows it must be a nice place for snaps.

Maybe you are just walking around town wondering where to go? Walk by a bus stop – up pops the bus timetable. Nearly lunch? Oh look Google is telling you the nearby restaurants! Near a cinema? Google has got the all the show times ready for you! Maybe you’re near an attraction like a castle or a theme park? PING! Google Now has a card with a photo of the place(s), their opening hours and a single-press button to navigate you there!

Are you extremely forgetful? Do you struggle to remember your name, or perhaps forget to wear clothes when you go shopping? Well Google has the answer. All you need to do is say “OK Google,” followed by what you want it to remind you of, and then the time or place you wish to be reminded. For example, I sometimes need to be reminded to hand in completed work at the main desk before heading to class. So, I say: “OK Google, remind me to hand in my Epicyclic Gear paper when I get to College.” It knows what college I go to, and as soon as I pull into the car park my phone buzzes to remind me. Soon it will even be able to remind you based on your proximity to other people. Ever thought “Damn I really meant to till Tim about…” Not for much longer!

There are many more examples of what Google Now can do, but if I mention any more you’ll probably fall asleep on your keyboard, and trust me that isn’t good. Getting the imprint of keys out of your skin can be rather difficult.* So do you have Google Now? Hopefully the answer is yes, because in all honesty I couldn’t function without it anymore.

“Okay Google. Tell me more about this new iPhone game, something called ‘Siri’?”

*These events are purely hypothetical and are not based on real life occurrences…

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