Google Now, a rival to Apple’s Siri, is your new personal assistant, providing you with updates to things such as public transportation, sports, travel information and breaking news.
Google Now is a method for Google to remember what you need to be doing, what your search patterns are like, and to identify information that may be relevant and useful to you without you having to search for it.This can include anything from a friend’s birthday, weather conditions, directions, traffic updates and other aspects that are relevant to you based on what Google has gotten to know about you. The idea behind Google Now is it learns behavior so that you don’t have to Google anything, Google will just give you the information when you would need it without you even asking. This pre-fetching of information can be useful in that if you forget to search something, it can be promptly served up to you, unsolicited.
Michael Stearne has had his own personal experience with Google Now where it sent him a plane ticket that his wife had purchased for him. He described it as “definitely helpful but definitely creepy”. Tune in to hear the story!
Avinash Conda: Hey there! Welcome to another episode of Path TV. This is your host Avinash Conda and I have with me again Michael Stearne Hello.
Michael Stearne: Wearing the same shirt a week later. It makes no sense.
Avinash Conda: A week later wearing the same shirt. Well, I wear the same shirt for three days a week anyway.So, what are we talking about today?
Michael Stearne: What are we talking about now?
Avinash Conda: Now. Yeah, I was wondering what this Google Now is. So, Google Now; what is Google Now? Have you had experiences with Google Now?
Michael Stearne: Yeah. So, Google Now is a way for Google to help you remember what you need to be doing now or basically basic information that’s very relevant to you right now that Google has learned about you over time.
Avinash Conda: So, like what? Like your birthday or your friend’s birthday or something?
Michael Stearne: Yeah, if it’s like a friend’s birthday today, it’s to remind you or if it’s the weather today, Google will figure out “Okay, this person probably wants the weather report today” or “If it’s 9 o’clock in the morning, he probably wants train directions to this place called ‘work’ that he goes to, this certain address that he goes to almost every day.” So, they try to pre-fax or pre-give you information about things that might be of help.
Avinash Conda: Okay. So, they are trying to learn about user’s behavior and then serve them that result even before they ask for it?
Michael Stearne: Yeah. So, they are eliminating themselves because people don’t have to do Google searches. It’s a little trade-off.
Avinash Conda: Did you use it before? Did you have any experience with it?
Michael Stearne: Yeah. I mean, most of the time it’s very useful. An interesting experience that I had recently is that I had a flight leaving at 4:30. So, this flight though I didn’t buy the tickets for it. I didn’t have any receipt in my Gmail for these tickets but Google still knew that I had a flight at 4:30 like this is literally borderline NSA stuff.
Avinash Conda: Yeah, it sounds like that.
Michael Stearne: Yeah, they would know of course. So, when I did like a little bit of kind of research, my wife had booked the ticket, so she bought the ticket in my name but still she didn’t send me any kind of like confirmation or any kind of receipt for my ticket but still Google knew. So, I did a little research in I think both of our mail boxes and about a month prior she had sent me an e-mail from KAYAK that said “Here is a flight that we might be interested in.”
Avinash Conda: It’s a quote.
Michael Stearne: Yeah, “A price quote for our flight that you might be interested in.”
Avinash Conda: That was a confirmation at all.
Michael Stearne: No, no, that was just “Our price quote here and this flight looks good” and that was the last interaction I had with that flight. So, the day of the flight I did some research and probably what turns out is that Google viewed my Gmail, viewed her Gmail and looked maybe connection between her sending me that quote and then her purchasing of that ticket from a different website, from Orbitz and having my name on the ticket but still not my e-mail address, so there is not like a hard link between these two e-mail addresses but Google inferred or assumed that This person with the same name is going on this trip. I know about that person because he has a Gmail address. So, I should remind that person.”
Avinash Conda: And you got a reminder from Google.
Michael Stearne: A reminder saying “your flight is at 4:30.” It was helpful, it was definitely helpful but it is also definitely creepy.
Avinash Conda: Creepy. Sure, sometimes it’s creepy. Yeah, that’s kind of really a good example. What else can you think about? You did not buy the ticket, your wife bought it, she just sent you a quote before and Google knows that you guys are traveling together and sent you a reminder. That’s good.
Michael Stearne: And they also sent me the weather report as well.
Avinash Conda: …which is helpful. Obviously, the people who know your flight detail will obviously know the weather report.
Michael Stearne: But from a marketing standpoint it helps Google maybe not right now but soon because all that stuff, okay, Google recognizes I am going on a trip and maybe the round car and maybe the restaurant to go to there. So, it can sort of add things that will help me.
Avinash Conda: Alright. So, that’s what Google has been all about and it’s getting better and better.
Alright, thanks a lot for talking about Google Now. Thanks for watching. Catch you on the next episode.