'Google Now' personal assistant represents search giant's answer to Siri

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Even as Google continues to develop voice search functionality for its Android mobile operating system, the company's new Google Now service is a different approach to tackling rival Apple's Siri virtual assistant.

At its Google I/O developer conference this week, Google showcased its new Android 4.1 update, dubbed Jelly Bean, which is set to roll out to consumers in July. Though the update is not a major 1.0 revision as some has expected, it does contain a number of new features, including the Google Now service, improved voice search and a "Project Butter" framework for reducing stutter across the OS.

Android's new voice search adds "cards" that resemble the custom user interfaces that Apple implemented with its own Siri voice-activated personal assistant. According to a side-by-side comparison of voice recognition queries on Google's and Apple's operating systems by PC Mag, Jelly Bean voice search "appears to work at least as well" as Siri.

It's the new predictive Google Now service, however, that could represent the company's true interest in the future of search. Last year, Android boss Andy Rubin said he doesn't believe that phones should "be an assistant" or that users should have to be "communicating with the phone."

Google Now eliminates the need for users to communicate with their phones by automatically detect ing the information a user is likely to need and preparing it ahead of time.

"Instead of having to sift through and organize all the information you need throughout your day, all that information is ready at the exact moment you need it," Google's promo video says.





For instance, the service would pull up weather information before the user left the house, then show traffic information on the commute to work. When a phone recognizes that it's near a bus stop or subway station, Google Now would display upcoming train or bus times. The service can even predict how long it will take for a user to get to their next appointment and send a notification when it's time to leave.

In some aspects, Google Now also mirrors functionality found in Apple's upcoming Passbook app. For instance, Passbook will use location data to automatically provide users with the appropriate card, such as a digital Starbucks membership card or a boarding pass.

Though it remains to be seen whether Google Now will function as promised, the service could condition users to get answers without having to ask for them, effectively bypassing the need for a virtual assistant like Siri or Android's own voice search. Whereas Apple's approach was to design Siri with the quirks and personality that make talking to it feel more like an human interaction, Google Now fits with Android's automated robot scheme.

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean will go out over the air to newer devices, such as the Galaxy Nexus, Motorola Xoom and Nexus S, in the middle of next month and will also be included on the upcoming Nexus 7 tablet from Asus and Google.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 128


    But will it ever get an update from OEMs and telecoms?

  • Reply 2 of 128
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Google Now eliminates the need for users to communicate with their phones by automatically detect ing the information a user is likely to need and preparing it ahead of time.

    Yeah, good luck with that.

    Maybe Google should stop talking about things until they have something to show.
  • Reply 3 of 128


    Using it right now on my Galaxy Nexus and it works great. Seems more robust and reliable than Siri

  • Reply 4 of 128
    notscottnotscott Posts: 247member


    Just let us follow your every move, take note of what you do there... what you buy, drink, eat, and do, and we'll wait a minute what the hell are we proposing?

  • Reply 5 of 128
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post





    Yeah, good luck with that.

    Maybe Google should stop talking about things until they have something to show.


    They did showcase some examples in the keynote. I'm particularly impressed with the public transit schedule aspect of the service as this is something I have taken for granted in iOS maps, but they have taken it to a whole new level by incorporating GPS to know automatically that you are standing at a train platform or a bus station. It also alerts you when to leave by calculating your walking time to get to the station. Their traffic monitoring also looks really advanced. The cards are apparently pre-populated with relevant info although I would imagine it does use a lot of extra data in the background trying to anticipate what you will need next, so if you are on a small data plan you might get a surprise at the end of the month. Definitely not vaporware as you suggest.

  • Reply 6 of 128


    I just tried this on my brothers galaxy nexus and siri looks lame now. I mean wow google. 


     


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDsOtdRtG0Q&feature=plcp

  • Reply 7 of 128
    bighypebighype Posts: 148member


    Another shitty Google knockoff.

  • Reply 8 of 128


    only better. It's better than siri and more functional. 

  • Reply 9 of 128
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    mstone wrote: »
    They did showcase some examples in the keynote. I'm particularly impressed with the public transit schedule aspect of the service as this is something I have taken for granted in iOS maps, but they have taken it to a whole new level by incorporating GPS to know automatically that you are standing at a train platform or a bus station. It also alerts you when to leave by calculating your walking time to get to the station. Their traffic monitoring also looks really advanced. The cards are apparently pre-populated with relevant info although I would imagine it does use a lot of extra data in the background trying to anticipate what you will need next, so if you are on a small data plan you might get a surprise at the end of the month. Definitely not vaporware as you suggest.

    The concept really useful but based on the video above I have doubts it's as seamless and intelligent as it makes it out to be. I think transit maps would be one of the easier fits for Google but I question how it will know what you want without asking for it. It seems a Siri-like service should come before a predictive digital personal assistant service.


    PS: Google has done a great job at I/O. Unlike MS who have no pricing, no real demos, or any release date Google has released many products this week and their Nexus 7 and Q will be released in 2-3 weeks. Whether one thinks they are good products or not is another story, but they certainly out maneuvering MS and nearly every other tech company at this point.
  • Reply 10 of 128
    kozchriskozchris Posts: 209member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by bighype View Post


    Another shitty Google knockoff.



     


    Yep

  • Reply 11 of 128
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post





    The concept really useful but based on the video above I have doubts it's as seamless and intelligent as it makes it out to be. I think transit maps would be one of the easier fits for Google but I question how it will know what you want without asking for it.


    They were pretty up front about them saving your searches and routines. It learns as you use it sort of like the Nest thermostat claims to do. I certainly wouldn't mind if it asked me a few minutes in advance if I was planning to take the 4:00 PM bus or the 4:30 bus and then doing some comparison data sets in the background.

  • Reply 12 of 128

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by bighype View Post


    Another shitty Google knockoff.



     


    Knockoff? Google has had voice commands ages before Siri.


     


    Updating it this just makes it even better. When I woke up this morning there was a card on my screen with the amount of traffic I would run into on my way to work.


     


    It's really useful and you don't even have to think about. The data is just there.

  • Reply 13 of 128
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    The data is just there.*

    *Data may or may not actually be there. Data availability subject to Internet connection. Fees, terms, and conditions may apply.
  • Reply 14 of 128
    jetzjetz Posts: 1,293member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post





    *Data may or may not actually be there. Data availability subject to Internet connection. Fees, terms, and conditions may apply.


     


    Ummm...would that disclaimer not apply to Siri too?

  • Reply 15 of 128
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,989member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by MaroonMushroom View Post


     


    Knockoff? Google has had voice commands ages before Siri.


     


    Updating it this just makes it even better. When I woke up this morning there was a card on my screen with the amount of traffic I would run into on my way to work.


     


    It's really useful and you don't even have to think about. The data is just there.



     


    iPhone's had "voice commands" way before Siri.


     


    So why do you think Google is wasting their time on something like this, seeing as how according to Fandroids they've already had it for years?


     


    PS How do I get it on my Galaxy Nexus, I thought Jellybean wasn't coming until July?

  • Reply 16 of 128
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    mstone wrote: »
    They did showcase some examples in the keynote.

    When did "they did a few examples in a demo" become equivalent to having a finished project?
    mstone wrote: »
    I'm particularly impressed with the public transit schedule aspect of the service as this is something I have taken for granted in iOS maps, but they have taken it to a whole new level by incorporating GPS to know automatically that you are standing at a train platform or a bus station. It also alerts you when to leave by calculating your walking time to get to the station. Their traffic monitoring also looks really advanced. The cards are apparently pre-populated with relevant info although I would imagine it does use a lot of extra data in the background trying to anticipate what you will need next, so if you are on a small data plan you might get a surprise at the end of the month. Definitely not vaporware as you suggest.

    It's not vaporware? Then where can I get the finished product?

    You'd think people would have learned after 30 years of personal computer experience that a public demo is staged and scripted. Real life isn't so clean or simple.
  • Reply 17 of 128
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    mstone wrote: »
    They were pretty up front about them saving your searches and routines. It learns as you use it sort of like the Nest thermostat claims to do. I certainly wouldn't mind if it asked me a few minutes in advance if I was planning to take the 4:00 PM bus or the 4:30 bus and then doing some comparison data sets in the background.

    That's awesome! I wish Siri learned from its users more.


    I also wish Apple would include a specially devised paragraph that each user can read so Siri can build a phoneme database to better understand user's specific speech patterns. On top of of that I'd like Apple to include the cVard sound file option into Contacts so you can train Siri on how to pronounce specific names properly.
  • Reply 18 of 128
    freerangefreerange Posts: 1,584member
    mstone wrote: »
    They did showcase some examples in the keynote. I'm particularly impressed with the public transit schedule aspect of the service as this is something I have taken for granted in iOS maps, but they have taken it to a whole new level by incorporating GPS to know automatically that you are standing at a train platform or a bus station. It also alerts you when to leave by calculating your walking time to get to the station. Their traffic monitoring also looks really advanced. The cards are apparently pre-populated with relevant info although I would imagine it does use a lot of extra data in the background trying to anticipate what you will need next, so if you are on a small data plan you might get a surprise at the end of the month. Definitely not vaporware as you suggest.

    Not only will the data used surprise you, but the personal data saved, harvested and sold to the highest bidder, as well as the short battery life.
  • Reply 19 of 128

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post





    *Data may or may not actually be there. Data availability subject to Internet connection. Fees, terms, and conditions may apply.


    *Data just werkz.

  • Reply 20 of 128
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    jetz wrote: »
    Ummm...would that disclaimer not apply to Siri too?

    Of course. He's implying it doesn't to Google.
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