Monday, April 22, 2013

Google Now



I have been using a mobile device to manage my life since 2001. From the very beginning, input on the device has been the downside. Using two thumbs on a small keyboard does not compare with ten digits on a full-sized keyboard. Typing with two thumbs on a piece of glass presents even more of a challenge.

Voice input has the potential to take that downside and make it irrelevant. Apple's Siri advertisements made millions salivate over the potential voice input could hold.

On my Android, I have experimented with S-Voice, Vlingo, and Dragon Mobile Assistant. What I like much better than any of them is Google Now. I tap the microphone on the home screen of my Android, speak, and get my results quickly.

Voice input has the potential to take that downside and make it irrelevant. My favorite use for Google Now is as a GPS substitute. I do not even have to have an address. Touching the microphone and spreaking the name of the business is all that is needed. Google Now opens Google Maps, displays the street address, and begins giving me verbal driving instructions.

Other common uses I have found include the following:
  • Adding calendar events: "Add event...April 25th...9 AM...Hair appointment." (I find I need to keep talking. As soon as you pause, Google Now thinks you are done and processes your results.)
  • Adding alarms: "Set alarm for 30 minutes from now." I can also say, "Set alarm for 4:30." If I say, "Set alarm for 4:30. Feed the dogs," the when the alarm sounds, I also see why it was I was setting the alarm.
  • Placing phone calls: "Call John Doe."
  • Emailing: "Email John Doe...subject...Meeting information...message...Can you meet with me Tuesday morning at 9:00 question mark" Your person, subject, and message will be displayed. Tap to send the message. As you speak your message, you also speak the punctuations. In other words, you say "period" when you want a period in your message.
  • Searching the internet: "Tennis racket" returns a Google search for tennis rackets.
  • Converting units: "32 degrees Fahrenheit in Celsius." 
  • Weather: "What's the weather going to be tomorrow?" "What's the weather going to be tomorrow in Chicago?"

Here is a video which introduces the concept of Google Now:





Here is a side-by-side comparison of Google Now and Siri:




Google Now requires you to be running Jellybean on your Android. Instructions on setup are found here.

For iPhone owners, it looks like Google Now is headed your way also. Here is a short video:



What have I missed? Let me know if you have found another use for Google Now. For iPhone users, is anyone using Google Now at present?
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