Google is listening (and watching): First, futuristic specs. Next up it's Google Now, a voice-control service to sock it to Siri
Simon Usborne tries out Google Now - and finds the more it knows about you, the smarter it is
Google has stepped up its battle with Apple to manage our lives by planting its Siri-rivalling digital assistant deep inside enemy territory, like a helpful Trojan horse. Google Now is this week available on iPhones and iPads, vastly broadening the reach of the company’s voice search and mission to read our minds. But what is it, and can it defeat Siri?
I get it simply by updating my Google Search app. When it opens, a series of “cards” shuffles into view. One gives me a local weather forecast I never asked for (but quite appreciate), while another tells me it will take me 27 minutes to get home, with bad traffic on the A202, and offers a link to directions.
But how does it know where I live? Because ages ago I marked “home” on Maps while logged into my Google account. And this is how Now, which requires an account, works – the more it knows about you, the smarter it is. If I carry on using it, Now promises to learn from all my Google activity. On the morning you go on holiday, your flight status will appear based on the booking-confirmation email. When you land, you get details of the car rental you booked. Currency rates appear for the country, along with a reminder of the time back home, and, later, directions to the museum you Googled before you left.
You can opt out of any of this if it sounds a bit Minority Report, but Google is increasingly committed to giving us search results before we realise we want them. Now also works with Google Glasses, where it will respond to what you’re seeing (other than people who think you look silly).
The voice function, it turns out, is less interesting than the cards. I ask Now and Siri: “Where can I get a pizza?” Both instantly offer a list of restaurants (Pizza Hut is 159 feet from my desk, Google says). Then I ask the standard artificial-intelligence question: “What’s the meaning of life?” Now, which doesn’t talk, offers the dictionary definition of “life”. Siri tells me: “I find it odd that you would ask this of an inanimate object.” That’s a win for me.
Life & Style blogs
Looking past the search results: Google 2.0 will 'build airports and cities' says report
Jennifer Lawrence nude pictures leaked: Reddit removes 'The Fappening' board dedicated to sharing naked pictures of celebrities
iPhone 'Wave': iOS 8 hoax claims you can charge your iPhone in the microwave - you can't
A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
iOS 8: how to free up memory on your iPhone or iPad to install the update
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
- 1 Scottish referendum: So how about the English now being given a chance to split from England?
- 2 London council removes 'unacceptable' Stamford Hill posters telling women which side of the road to walk down
- 3 Kim Kardashian 'nude pictures' leaked on 4chan in new celebrity hacking attack weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
- 4 Matthew Miller: American sentenced to hard labour in North Korea 'wanted to be Snowden II'
- 5 Iranian blogger found guilty of insulting Prophet Mohammad on Facebook sentenced to death
iJobs Gadgets & Tech
£24000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Graduate BI Consultant (B...
£40000 - £55000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Service Delivery Manager (Product Ma...
£50000 - £70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Cloud Product and Solutions Marketin...
£18000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...