December 7, 2012
Google Now Update Targets Holiday Travel, Shopping
Google’s personal assistant/read your mind service Google Now wants to be a companion during holiday travel and shopping. It now has the ability to display boarding passes (currently only for United Airlines) and make product search suggestions based on your location.
Google Now is available on Android 4.1 and above. By swiping up from the home button it launches a series of cards based on your interests and information from your Gmail (you need to grant Google permission to snoop through your messages for relevant content). It displays traffic conditions, nearby events, and sports scores in an attempt to be a one-stop resource for information that matters to you.
The new boarding pass feature mirrors Apple’s Passbook, an app that seeks to keep boarding passes, coupons, and gift cards within one application. Users have some say in customizing the importance of the cards and how often they appear.
Recently I checked Google Now and saw a card offering product research at a nearby Barnes & Noble. While this integration is pretty preliminary, it has the potential for being a powerful shopping tool.
My favorite addition in the update is the card describing nearby events. It often takes following multiple concert or other venue sites to keep tabs on what is going on in one’s community. This portion of Google Now really has potential to make it very easy to see what gatherings are upcoming and worth attending.
Google Now debuted with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean as Google’s take on a “personal assistant,” somewhat like Siri. I have found the voice search to do a better job than Siri of providing information, mostly because of the power of Google search. Yet at times the application is still a little slow. Plus it comes with the usual caveat of privacy concerns given the amount of personal information that can be collected.
Yet if the information keeps getting more useful, then one can feel justified in granting Google access to such personal information. Google excels at making sense of large amounts of data. It certainly plans to use that in its battle against Apple.
If you are running Android 4.1 or higher, grab the update from Google Play.
Image credit: Official Android Blog