p.s. This is one widget where allowing it to use the maximum space possible makes a lot of sense, especially when traveling internationally (traffic, places, weather, currency, timezone, social/birthdays, calendar events, "things nearby".
Any lookups of other things give the same results, such as looking up news stories (eg a plane crash starts tracking flights of the same number) or how many calories there are in a McDonalds burger (starts showing nearest locations). I don't remember the example now but I've had it decide other searches are really for sports teams. (Annoyingly they also don't consider Formula 1 a sport.)
The biggest problem is the functionality is non-deterministic. You can't be sure if a card will appear for flights (eg you look one up you expect to meet tomorrow), and you get unintended junk at other times.
The reason is that Google are taking a superficial approach, almost just doing string matching. They aren't going deeper and figuring out more context (eg did I mean a stock, which day do I care about for a flight, is there any chance I'm looking for a McDonalds versus looking at corporate financials).
In my experience, Google Now finds my flights in my Gmail 100% of the time. For at least a dozen flights across the US. And for some airports (SFO is one, unsurprisingly) it even has the terminal and gate information ready! Google Now makes the "arriving at the airport" experience better every time for me.
In order for me to depend on Now, I need to know I can trust it and it only got one of the flights right. There is no way to know if it will do the right thing in the future unless you keep checking and having a backup plan.
More accurately it is giving you a random subset of information that might be relevant right now. The behaviour is not deterministic so you can't rely on it.
It's sort of scary to think that they're now going to parse out and generate non-email records of potentially confidential information such as your physical location at a point in time (like a flight number + date).
I steal private data for a living and that's just fucking creepy.
What I found though were starred places. I like the ability to be able to see my search history. How can you get to that from the navigation app ?
Maybe I spend too much time searching Maps randomly.
A browser plugin to enable/disable Now tracking seems like it could be handy, however. Though then if you forget to turn it back on you lose what eitally mentioned: "I forgot X, oh, thankfully Now caught it".
But doesn't Google Maps have a history feature that syncs across devices? Now seems like it might be polluting that space.
I've gotten into the habit of using incognito mode for most searches, and only staying logged in for things I think I'll want Now-based information for, like directions or information cards.
Sth like Bluetooth Low Energy (it requires additional h/w though)
Guess whether a walled garden is a bad thing depends on your particular brand of fanboyishness.
Personally speaking, the idea of Google displaying things based on my email history, diary and a knowledge of my location makes me shudder, "You're near that motel where you had that quickie last month, want to make a reservation?".
Would they? Is there any precedent here of Apple scraping user info? The usual complaints against Apple (mine included) is that their systems are far too locked down and closed to competition- not that they do funny stuff with my data.
All smartphone providers track the same sort of data in roughly the same way, it's part of what makes location software work.
Kinda like HIPPA medical privacy rights in the USA: when you go to a doctor, they'll hand you a paper for you to sign acknowledging you understand your privacy rights...then they hand you another paper for you to sign away those rights; if you don't sign both, you don't get any medical service. Imagine a not-distant future where if you don't opt-in to questionable services from Google, Apple & Microsoft, you're flatly denied use of any of their products - digitally ostracizing yourself from most of society.
And personally, I'm fine with Google doing so when they're actually doing something for my benefit with it (like Now).
People complain here all the time about Google getting access to your personal data.
Take directions. I work at a coworking space 4 miles from my home. The hours I'm there vary. Now seems to try predicting when I'm going to leave and shows me directions home. Its timing is never correct and I don't need directions for a route I drive all the time.
I can only remember one instance of it correctly notified me of when to leave (with directions) for something on my calendar. Often it just shows directions without the "Leave Now" message.
Sometimes it notifies me of the weather. Sometimes it doesn't. I haven't figured out that pattern yet.
Overall it just doesn't seem to understand my usage patterns.
> Overall it just doesn't seem to understand my usage patterns.
It sounds like that's because there isn't a pattern, at least in the case of your commute. You should just configure it to not try to show you those directions.
It's not just about directions, it's about traffic as well. When it maps a regular drive for me it also factors in traffic delays.
So I'm not sure what its up to.
Then when I met up with some associates at a coworking spot, it tried recommending that I drive home to the grocery store. :-?
I recommend a real, living, breathing assistant for you then. You can hire one cheap online from India.
I'd rather have it remind me of things that I don't want to be reminded of than not be reminded of things I do.
I've been using it even longer, and, aside of few "ok, cool" moments, it is completely unusable piece of software.
Deal breaker for me is - you can't rely on it as a weather app, you can't rely on it as reminder, as currency converter, and so on. Simply put, it's unreliable.
And a bit scary to boot, but I don't mind that, seeing how incompetent it is.
I've been using it for a few months
It's also pretty telling of something when more iOS devices have Google Now than Android devices do.
Google alerted me that I should leave for Santa Barbara "now".
Which was really, really weird for me, since I was already halfway there (from Phoenix).
Apparently, it had read through my emails, seen a receipt for sigur ros tickets from ticketmaster, figured out where I was, and already calculated how long it would take me to get there.
That is insanely awesome.
If you do get to the restaurant around the corner and stop then it should realise that it may need to remind you.
Anyway, I've signed up for it today. I like the idea in principle, and I understand how hard it is to get this right. I assume it will get better over time as they tweak it, so it's worth giving them a fair crack of the whip.
If you had an event in a calendar which had something in the "Location"-field it took the location you should be at from there.
Still it is a "whoa" moment. :)
I was robbing a bank and Google alerted me that I should leave "now".
Which was really weird for me, since I had a lot of gold to transport.
Apparently, it read through my emails, seen a glitch from other galaxy, figured out portal has opened, and already calculated how long it would take for the aliens to invade the earth.
iOS feels pretty old-fashioned in comparison.
Pretty subjective. I feel it's the other way around, with Android feeling old-fashioned, although I really like Android's power. I use both Android and iOS daily.
According to Google's own statistics, just 25% of Android devices [that access the Play store] are on Jelly Bean. Almost 70% are on Ice Cream Sandwich or Gingerbread.
Not sure how many iOS devices have the Google Search app installed, but I wouldn't be surprised if the percentage of total iOS devices with Google Now is > 25%...
It's also pretty telling of something when you can make such blind and broad claims when Android is holding significant lead to iOS across the board.
At first brush, all I see is a weather widget. I know there's more to it, but where exactly does the magic happen? What have you done (if anything) to maximize its value?
Also, I'm not quite sure how the iOS experience will be compared to Android - on Android, Google Now can proactively push data to users via the ridiculously powerful notifications system, and the intents mechanism lets it hook into the other parts of the phone seamlessly. iOS' notification center is distinctly less advanced, and it obviously has no intents mechanism, so it may feel less "magical" than it does on Android, simply because it'll require more user proactivity to bridge that gap.
Here's a list of all the cards that Google Now might show you: http://support.google.com/nexus/4/answer/2839499?hl=en
For me, it's only showing the local weather, which I can see out my office window. And besides, this is CA. Forecast for the rest of the year is Sunny and warm.
If you put a location in a Google calendar item, it will keep tabs on traffic and notify you when you should leave for your appointment.
If your search history shows you're searching for a sports team often, it'll have a standing card with that team's scores & schedules.
Google Now is connected to your Gmail and can pop up notifications for shipments, flights, restaurant reservations, etc based on receipts and boarding passes in your inbox.
Search for "pizza" or a specific address on your computer while signed-in to Google Maps? The next time you look at your phone it tells you how long it would take to get there, and offers you turn-by-turn directions, automatically.
Have a flight confirmation email sent to your signed-in Gmail account? You'll be notified on your phone if your flight gets delayed, how long the trip will be, and information about your destination. Same goes for package delivery confirmation emails.
And those really only scratch the surface. The more you use it, the more you come to rely on it, which makes you want to use Google-branded services more and more often. It's a brilliant move on their part.
- In mornings, I get the traffic to office from my home.
- In evenings, I see the travel time back.
- When I am visiting a different city/country, I get time, currency and weather updates. If the hotel reservation and flight reservation are in gmail, I also get the latest flight updates, the hotel checkin email etc.
- I have the stocks card always on.
- On fridays, I get updates on movies that are in theaters.
- On weekends and on trips, I get photos of nearby places (I click a lot of photos)
- I am not a sports fan but I have heard that the sports integration is decent and useful too.
- I have not used the ios app so don't know if that has all the functionality as Android.
- I don't know if ios can have always-on apps or hardware shortcuts so I don't know if you can get to it with 0-taps and if it will keep the cards up to date in background.
Things I use when the appropriate email arrives in my inbox: current flight schedules (plus approximate time to get to the airport); package tracking
One thing that totally surprised me: I had a reservation on OpenTable, and my phone buzzed with a notification that it was time to leave for the restaurant if I intended to make it on time
And to be honest, I haven't "done" anything to get this value. This is all information that arrives automatically. That is, Google determined automatically what I needed to know by indexing my email, my searches, and knowing where I am at all times. Make of that what you will.
I've had it for a few months on my Nexus 7. In summary its travel and shopping push notifications. I had the usual intense short lived "oh that's really cool" reaction and haven't used it since then and its had no measurable impact on my life. Kinda like my relationship with facebook and linkedin and twitter.
In the eternal wheel of IT, where nothing is ever really invented, merely recycled every couple years, this is the reincarnation of the pointcast internet screensaver app from the mid 90s. Back then the complaint was it was spammy and didn't provide real value, so after a similar intense publicity wave quieted, they dried up and blew away with the wind, until now (literally, "Now", get the pun? Yeah well bad pun; bad puns never really go away just get recycled later...)
Google Reader = News Feed
Google Now = Life Feed
it's not like other apps where you have to decide if it's worth it to use google now or not. all you have to do is install it, and it will periodically be useful.
In my mind, Google Now is about carving out a space on devices where they can actually show high value contextual advertising outside of search. Their pitch to advertisers will be much stronger if they have a foothold on every device.
I'm also surprised that this was released before Google I/O. Between near confirmation that Android will be 4.3, and the string of major product releases of the last couple of months, it looks like any major announcements will have to come from left field. The Google X people have been dropping hints about some sort of Control Systems thing....
I haven't been at the Google I/O but it wouldn't be surprising if they did not want to have anything to do with a competitor mentioned at their conference.
Besides, Google has been killing it on iOS recently.
Wasn't there suppose to be an X labs announcement this month? Maybe they're saving it for I/O. There is a ton of potential for Google Now to function as a controller for your home (android) devices. For example, you're going home from work on a hot day and a card pops up asking if you want to turn the A/C on so the house is cool when you get home.
Its basically the same idea.
Basically, it turned your idle monitor into a poor-man's version of a TV tuned to MSNBC. One of the major problems was that selling ads on an idle computer screen is a hard sell.
The whole point of Now is that it's _not_ a generic news feed / portal. It's all stuff customized to you, and it's not intended to be just passively viewed.
Google better not be evil.
Given their history, that's an awful big statement to make.
Apple is really good at this stuff.
iOS has the "absolute best apps" because of the level of polish, design, and near-pixel-perfect elements visible in the apps. I've used Android for years (SGS2 and Nexus 7) and many of the apps are poorly designed and have even poorer implementations. Many of them feel like they are just 5 standard UI widgets put together on the screen is just bland. This can be seen by how many Android applications use Holo but don't try to give it their own personality. Small changes to the UI can lead to a personalized and tailored/polished feel (Starbuck's green standard navbar, Netflix's logo on their own red navbar, etc). Also, iOS apps seem to experiment more with gestures and UX concepts. Using apps like Clear, Google Maps, Haze, etc. really shows you how well thought out an app could be. It just seems like many of Android's apps look the exact same and lack that attention to detail, I guess.
Also, please remember that "more powerful" doesn't correlate to "best." I would rate Clear much, much higher than most Android apps. While it doesn't allows me to access the root filesystem, overclock the CPU, or alter the boot image, it's extremely intuitive, attractive, and works beautifully.
The part I have a problem with is the wildly different-looking and different-functioning buttons, lists, menus and so on. If they had exercised some restraint and only applied a minimal colour-only theme, I could figure out what their UI does after just looking at it.
Enjoy your MIDI-playing personal USB fan on your Android phone--I'll just be over here getting actual work done.
Are you saying you can't get work done unless some third party makes those decisions for you?
The Android experience is very good now, but I would be lying if I said that app quality is nearly as high, especially in things like photography and audio. That still makes me think about whether my commitment is long-term.
This is just search isn't it?
(Judging by the other comments here, maybe I should complain about that - it should have known I was on holidays. But I'm not jaded enough and so I was just dazzelled by the wonder of it).
Hope Apple can try their hand at creating some cross platform applications as well.
Obviously it makes sense for Google to get its advertising hooks everywhere it can, but I don't see Apple and Microsoft having the same cross-platform incentives at all.
What the fuck, Google.
update: does not use notifications :(
- A normal home screen widget
- A lock screen widget
- A special "drag up from the home button" gesture that can be triggered from any app
- Rich notifications. (As in you can trigger useful actions straight from the notification. E.g. for an event that's starting soon, you can email all participants.)
However, Android push is significantly more flexible than iOS push, if you push information to an iOS app, that information must appear as a notification, and the app can't process it until the user opens the notification.
Does this happen to people in any other European countries?
Couldn't you get access to the UK's or Ireland's store? All you need is a voucher card and a fresh email address. That's how I got my US account for US-exclusive apps.
Google makes money by connecting their users to commerce opportunities. Their ability to monetize is linearly related to how many active users they have. They'd rather have 70% of the market through Android plus some proportion of non-Android users finding them through apps than have 75% of the total market and rely 100% on Android to attract users on mobile.
They get more total users and have a more diverse base. If Android starts to lose share, they still have the ability to monetize the other platforms.
Or look at how bad the Voice Search made Siri look.
When I got Android 4.1 with Google Now my battery life actually got better (presumably because of improvements made throughout the OS) so it's hard to say what impact it has on battery for me.
Or here: https://maps.google.com/maps/myplaces?&hl=en
If you prefer to have it automagically know your work and home addresses, you can wait a few days and it will discover these on its own using GPS data.