I like Google Now, and although it’s not a fixture in my daily device life, I it use pretty often, and it just keeps getting smarter and more useful.
Case in point, a couple weeks ago, I got my first Activity summary card, or at least, I noticed it for the first time.
Pretty interesting stuff I suppose. My biggest takeaways were: wow, if I could track older months this might be useful, the health tracking market is getting very crowded, and holy crap, Google could pwn that entire, admittedly nascent, market if they want.
To that last point, I use so many Google services that they could offer me a truly valuable summary of my activity, including the reasons, e.g. because of the events in my calendar, I walked more, or because of my searches for walking directions, I walked more.
From what I’ve seen so far, most fitness trackers are marginally useful at best. However, just by tracking my month-over-month walking, Google could offer cards that give me a decent incentive to be more healthy, e.g. the Travel Time card that shows time to work or to make an appointment on time could easily recommend that I walk, or walk a longer route, to spur healthy choices.
Plus, that card could create a competitive incentive by comparing my miles walking month-over-month.
If nothing else, it’s a reminder that I should at least consider walking.
I read about an internet of things startup today, Greenbox, that is building a smarter sprinkler system. In classic pitch terms, they’re calling it Nest for the garden. Sounds like a good pitch, e.g. using weather data to shut off the system when it’s raining.
There’s no reason to think Google Now couldn’t use weather data to produce more useful cards; Now already shows you the weather conditions and forecasts for cities to which you’re traveling in the near future, based on itineraries in your Gmail account.
So, cards that alert you to severe weather conditions or even changes in weather, e.g. to let you know to pack a jacket if the weather is drastically different, would be welcome.
And if micro-weather ever becomes a thing, like Waze for weather, Google could just throw money around to buy whatever startup seems right, just like they did with Waze. Incidentally, I’ve used the combination of Waze and Maps several time to avoid traffic jams.
There are lots of examples rattling around in my head, and I don’t even have all the Now cards enabled.
All this is possible because Google has access to so much data and has so much computing power, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that they also have access to tons of mobile devices that we carry around all the time.
Google Now could easily lay claim to both the future and past, all provided in easy to consume cards. It’s too bad they’re just an advertising company.
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