Jelly Bean, the latest version of Android, may not have brought many novelties, but Google Now, the voice-activated personal assistant, might help Google dethrone Apple.
Google Now is based on cards that include valuable information, presented in the simple design that characterizes most of Google’s products. At the moment, only 10 cards are available, for things that are frequently accessed, such as weather and traffic. One of the major sell points of Google Now is that these cards contain the information that you need, exactly at the moment you need it. The company promises to bring us more cards in the future, and probably developers will be allowed to create their own cards, too.
Some of the cards are intended for daily use, as they provide access to things smartphone users can no longer live without. The Traffic card informs the user which route to the destination has lighter traffic, while the Public Transport one includes the buses, trains and metros that are leaving soon, should the user happen to be in the vicinity of a station. Weather and Next Appointments are yet other two cards that will probably be used on a daily basis. Places and Sports will certainly be a staple for people who enjoy going out, but don’t want to miss a detail about their favorite teams. The last four cards, namely Translation, Currency, Time at home and Flights, will probably be more appreciated by business and casual travelers. In order to function properly, some of the cards require access to location services, calendars and Web history.
Siri is based on Wolfram Alpha, and this collaboration represented a real threat to Google, since Apple accounts for a quarter of traffic that the computational knowledge engine got. Google Now, however, seems to turn things around in the Mountain View giant’s favor. Since last week, when Jelly Bean has been launched, people have compared frantically Siri to Google Now and the latter seems to be the winner of the two.
Another good news is that you do not have to wait till your Android smartphone gets Jelly Bean, if you really want a taste of Google Now. If you happen to have a rooted device running an AOSP-based ROM, then you can head over to the XDA forums and get the hacked Google Now.
Hopefully, Google Now will also determine Samsung to retire S Voice, as this has never been a real contender for Siri.