February 12, 2013

googlenowadGoogle is clearly trying to raise awareness of Google Now, Android’s built-in voice and search system which tries to get “you just the right information at just the right time”, and after the airing of some prime time ads about the system, it seems that Google has some changes in the pipeline. Google Now is normally a separate screen that shows things like traffic, weather and stocks and also allows access to Google Search, however it isn’t activated via a normal app icon on the  home screen but rather it only appears when you use the standard search bar.

This means that all those potentially useful “cards” are hidden until you use the search facility. According to some short lived official Google support pages, Google are planning to release a Google Now widget that “displays a summary of your current Google Now cards, either on a home screen or on the lock screen.” I said short lived because, once the story broke on the Internet about the new widget, all the pages were removed by Google!

google now widget

What the support pages did show was a widget with information about the current traffic, the current weather and the current Google share price. The widget is for a UK Android user as it shows the weather situation in London and the traffic report is for the A1234, a major road in Yorkshire!

When this new widget will appear is unclear, will it be part of the next version of Android? Will it be part of an update to Jelly Bean 4.1 or 4.2 or will it be part of an update via Google Play? However it appears, it can’t come soon enough as the main reason I don’t use Google Now is that it is too hidden! This new widget will be a welcome addition.

What do you think, would you use Google Now more if there was a widget?


Gary Sims
Gary has been a tech writer for over a decade and specializes in open source systems. He has a Bachelor's degree in Business Information Systems. He has many years of experience in system design and development as well as system administration, system security and networking protocols. He also knows several programming languages, as he was previously a software engineer for 10 years.
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