Since it first launched in 1998, Google has grown into the most visited website in the world. They started out as the world wide web’s first search engine and have since expanded into so many other features including Google Translate, Docs, Flights, Google+, and so much more.
There are so many features now of Google that sometimes it’s hard to keep up with them all. But if you do you will be amazed of all of the useful tools at your disposal. One tool from Google that is just starting to take off with mainstream popularity is Google Now. It came out in mid-2014 and is described as an A.I. personal assistance. If that sounds familiar, it competes in the market with Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and recently Amazon’s Alexa.
While it may not be well known yet as the aforementioned products, Google Now definitely has its own unique features that set it apart from these other two products. This technology is the way of the future and is relatively new. I think everyone should know how to use these features, as they may become useful to you some day. Even if they don’t it’s still cool to try it out and know that you can use it correctly. Therefore, this article is dedicated to teaching you everything you need to know about Google Now, from what it is, to how it works, and how to properly use it and maximize its potential. So, want to learn more about this exciting, new innovation from Google? Continue on!
What Is Google Now?
As I briefly touched on in the intro, Google Now is what is referred to as an intelligent personal assistance. It features voice search and commands which are similar in principle to other pieces of software in this industry. Yes, you can ask it anything you want like “How’s the weather”, or “Where’s the Nearest Taco Bell” (I do that one a lot). But those features are no different than the ones offered by Siri or others. Yes, it has those basic capabilities, but the biggest thing that sets Google Now apart from others is its ‘Now Cards’ feature.
Now Cards (renamed ‘feed’ recently) is extremely broad as it can help you with a variety of things. It basically places ‘cards’ on your home screen for whenever you set it for. For instance, if you need to pay the water bill soon, or set up a doctor’s appointment, you can set up reminders for yourself. Or if there is a traffic accident on your normal route to work, it will find you an alternative route. There are so many incredible capabilities of it I couldn’t even begin to explain them all, so think of it as everything your phone can do, and then it giving you notifications of your habits from these. Unfortunately, I don’t have enough time to discuss all of the amazing features of Now Cards, so if you want to learn more I would highly recommend this article from Android Central. This is definitely one the most important parts of Google Now.
So you know the basics of it, how do you get it? Well, Google Now is an app that you can get in the Google Play Store or in the Apple App store. It is also available for Microsoft windows and in the notification center for Google Chrome. These two pieces are big for the potential is has to grow, because originally it was launched as only a mobile application. Now, with it being able to work on all modern operating systems, it will only become more used and well-known.
How Does the Technology Work?
It’s great to know how to operate this piece of technology, but it is also interesting to look at how it operates. Most of its counterparts in this industry get their information from only a certain amount of predetermined websites. Siri, for instance, get’s its stock information from Yahoo, weather from AccuWeather and so on. The revolutionary innovation with Google Now is that it is the first to get information from any website. You may think that that could lead to some misinformation, as not everything on the Internet is true. However, it uses tools and algorithms similar to those employed in Search Engine Optimization and looks for sites deemed to be relevant.
This feature has received some mixed reviews. Some prefer it over Siri, as it can definitely give some valuable information sometimes that Siri was unable to find. The main problem is caused by the fact that it is unable to differentiate between factual information and pieces intended to be satirical. This may lead to it answering a question you asked with a line from a comedian’s stand-up routine when it was intended to be a joke, not fact. So obviously this technology isn’t perfect yet and still has a lot to improve. But the fact that Google is doing it differently than others in the industry should make people happy.
It Knows What I’m Watching?
So I haven’t talked about it yet, but the title alluded to the point that Google Now is able to detect what TV show you are watching whenever. Crazy right? There is a feature you can select that is titled ‘Listen for a TV show’. When you click that, your device uses its microphone to listen to the audio from the TV for 5-10 seconds. Once it listens, it will not only tell you what show you are watching, but it may pull up additional information about it, such as its IMDb page or breaking news about it. Another feature that no other competitor in this field has.
This technology seems mind boggling when you first hear about it. But if hen you think about it, it’s not much more complex than say Shazam or other apps that tell you what song is playing by listening. Google essentially took that technology, which has been out for nearly a decade and made it for TV instead. That’s a simple generalization of it, as it is definitely more complex, though. With those apps, songs are already in their database and the structure of the song never changes. But TV is live; the same exact frequencies, timing, and rhythms have never been seen previous. So how does Google do it?
It’s actually a more simple answer than you may expect. Basically, their servers are simultaneously “viewing” every show on every TV network. All your device does is grab a short audio clip and send it to Google. Google then quickly compares your sample to everything it has captured throughout the day and what it is currently capturing. So that’s how it is done. This will work for not only live programming but if you are watching something on DVR or streaming that at one point aired. The concept is not super difficult, but what still amazes me and something I probably won’t ever be able to explain is how they do it in such a short amount of time. The insane algorithms and math that must have had to go into that show you just how incredible of a company Google can be sometimes.
Google Now is a powerful tool that has been rising in popularity the last couple of years. Operating with voice commands isn’t new, as most pieces of technology do that now, even some TV remotes. What makes Google Now stand out from the crowd is its intuitive ‘Now cards’ or also referred to as ‘feed’. This feed can give you so much information on anything you need and is also very easy to access. That is what the future of this product lies in.
Although many people may not have heard of this feature from Google before, I predict that it will take off soon. Google’s biggest dilemma is that they simply have so many products out there, sometimes ones like this get buried from the publicity of the others and take a while to build steam. This is also especially true when there is already strong competition is the market. They same exact thing happened with translate and drive, and now they are immensely successful.
Another reason it is slow to take off is that it isn’t as integrated into the search engine yet, like translate or flight. Recently, Google added a feature which allows you to search the web from your browser with a voice command, so that is a start. With its unique features and accessibility available on all platforms, I think within the next couple of years it will overtake the other competitors in the market. ‘Siri’ only works on Apple products, ‘Cortana’ only on Microsoft, and ‘Alexa’ only with Amazon. Google Now is available on any smartphone and web browser. Even if it doesn’t completely dominate the market, it will at least make the others make changes to try to compete, which is great. Competition only leads to better features and products for the consumers.
Know of any other great ways to use Google Now? Leave a comment in the section below!