At their annual developer’s conference I/O, Google has just unveiled their latest cut at total reality control called Google Now. It’s designed for Android (which immediately cuts us iPhone users out of the equation). In this new world Google mines your search and browsing activity so that it can remind you of upcoming events, let you know the weather or how long your commute time will be, how your favorite sports team is doing or where to get lunch. It’s an interesting idea and one I’d love to see in reality. It’s clearly aimed at Apples digital assistant Siri, but rather than launch an assistant you can talk to they are offering an AP which anticipates what you will likely want to know.
This isn’t an altogether new idea, on my iPhone I can scroll weather and traffic, sports scores etc but typically only in response to a previous request or through a dedicated AP. The approach Google is taking is somewhat more free form, yes you can set it up to give you specific information but if you have done something whilst logged into Google it may well remind you about it or figure you’d like to know about it without you asking for the information.
This could be very cool, another consequence of having all your data and behavior stored in one place. It could also be intrusive and weird…imagine being at dinner with your spouse when our phone suggests that you call an old girl or boyfriend as the team you both used to follow avidly has just scored a major victory. I’m not entirely sure I want a virtual butler perpetually second guessing my needs or interests, I suspect after the novelty has worn off it will get about as much use as Siri….not much at all. Given the ongoing privacy woes Google has seen in recent years it’s entirely likely that what it has access to and can talk to you about will be on an opt in basis, but it does point the way to an interesting future where you phone is a chatty, informative and occasionally very embarrassing best friend in your pocket.