I remember hearing Eric Schmidt many years ago, about how the future will reveal a phone that will become your perfect assistant. A phone that would take in information from around you, would be based on your behavior and habits, and will give you the information you need to know before you even have to ask for it. Well, Google Now seems like the realization of that dream, or at least a strong step in that direction, and it will be available on Android 4.1 and later devices.
Before you start worrying about privacy and stuff, you should know that the service is completely opt-in. If you have no use for an AI that gives you contextual information about where you are, what you should be doing, eating or watching, and so on, then you can just keep it disabled. On the other hand, if you love this kind of advancement in technology and want to take full advantage of it, Google Now should make your life easier.
Just to give a few examples of how that would happen – if you leave your house, and there’s a lot of traffic on the route you’re taking, Google Now can prepare an alternate route for you and notify you about it, so you get to work in time or wherever you need to go. It can tell you what trains are coming next at the subway, it can find you good places to eat, and if you are in the restaurant, it can show you the best dishes you can have there, and so on.
Google Now can also be used with voice commands, much like Apple’s Siri, although the replies seem faster, and it will have more details available for you, in addition, to having the first smart card with at-a-glance information. Google takes advantage of their latest Knowledge Graph technology here, that can understand exactly what you’re looking for based on semantic information.
We were expecting to see “Majel” announced at I/O. This may be Google’s assistant AI software, so either this was it, or it’s not and it’s just a basic version (although a strong one) meant as a preview for what’s coming in Android 5.0. Google Now seems very good as it is, but of course I welcome any future improvements for this sort of AI technology.