Google Now

Let's just throw this out there. Google Now is pretty awesome. A little scary, maybe, which we talked about a bit in last night's Google I/O podcast, but awesome nonetheless. The ability to predict what it is you want to see in the form of widgets is some high-tech schtuff.

Right now it's just an app within Jelly Bean.

But what if it weren't. What if Google Now was your homescreen, giving you all that information you currently have to build manually with widgets and app icons, based of your search history. A scary proposition, but an intriguing one, too.

We'll talk more about this in the coming weeks, for sure. 


Reader comments

How long before Google Now becomes your homescreen?


If Google Now were forced to be my home screen, I would be looking for a different mobile OS or some type of sanity hack. I certainly hope you mean if there were an *option* to make it a home screen!

Google can be seriously creepy with this stuff sometimes.

i agree, i hope they put in the option to turn of this function. apple and android seem to be putting more and more things i really don't need or want, with my evo i have the option and control of my phone, if they don't then i guess ill be rooting my phone.

They do have an option to turn it off, it is off till you open it and hit accept.

Personally I could not see it being a replacement for my home screen but rather a full screen live widget.

I like the fact that its integrated into the OS. These are all things that we had before from 3rd party apps but binging them all into 1 and having it mold into your life is great. I flashed it n my Gnex as soon as i heard and its fantastic so far

You can turn off or opt out of any cards that you don't wish to use/have displayed. As much as google keeps increasing the amount of data that they collect, they're getting better and better with people being able to opt out/pack up everything and leave google. The understand that many people want these features and are willing to part with personal data to obtain it, others that don't want to make that trade can simply live without the feature. It's a win-win for everybody that way I think.

Agreed, I like the option to opt out, but I don't care what personal information they collect on me. I mean, what are they going to do with it besides tailor content and ads to my interests?

As long as it can be toggled on and off I don't see any problem with it. If you hate it turn it off. They already have all your data anyways, so why not let them use it to make your life easier.

Right. It doesn't sound like they're gathering any additional data. They're just using the data they've already collected to display the info they think you'll be most likely to want to know.

And remember, folks, there's a *huge* difference between someone (as in a person) looking at your personal data and *something* (such as a computer algorithm) analyzing that data and deciding that you'd be interested in knowing the score from the game last night.

It's always up to you what you are comfortable sharing, but it's never as bad as most people make it out to be.

I'd give it a shot tomorrow if it were available. But of course I'm still waiting for the official ICS for my Bionic, so I guess I won't be seeing Google Now for a while.

Hey Google, now that you own Motorola why don't you get our bootloaders unlocked so we can do all this neat stuff without having to wait for Verizon? I mean it's not like Moto didn't promise it a year ago.

I put JB on my GNex's unbelievable! I've always been slightly envious of how smooth the scrolling and transitions are on iOS - now, they're just as smooth on Android. And Google Now works great!

I agree with the consensus here - it would be great to have the option of using Google Now as the home screen, or having a full-screen widget. I don't think Google will force it on us, though...that would go against the whole Android mindset.

I don't get why everyone thinks this kind of thing is creepy.

The second you begin creating email accounts and using the Internet in general you've opened yourself up to being tracked, followed and bombarded by ads.

At least Google is relatively upfront about these things. I don't mind as long as its helpful., and with what's being said around the web, Google Now is really great.

As long as people have a choice I think this is great news - I think I heard about a similar project on kickstarter (which may well be part of Google's inspiration).
Slightly related: has anyone else noticed how Google maps navigation seems a bit "smarter" lately? I typically tend to leave really early in the morning for the airport when travelling interstate and the destination choice at the top of the list always seems to be the airport at that time of day. Similar for when I'm heading home in the afternoon/evening. I also like the fact that travel time updates based on actual travel time of other android users. Call me naive, but I like it when things are made to make things easy.

I wouldn't mind if Google Now was a widget itself that took up a page on my phone. If you want to open it just tap it like all other widgets. Also having an icon would be better. But that's far enough for me. Anything else and they would be forcing a product on me that I might not even use that much.

Guess I am lucky, don't have to worry about it. My HTC Amaze 4G was just updated to ICS 4.03 less than two months ago, so the chances of getting an upgrade to 4.1 before I have to upgrade is, ah, slim and none.

NOt sure what people seem so paranoid or upset about. It's something Google already does, collect all your information. Only now they're finding a creative way to actually help you with all that information. If I could wake up and my RSS feed and Twitter feed were already waiting for me, that would be great. THe whole purpose of AI technology is to anticipate the need of it's user to make their lives easier and smoother.

There is a big difference to me between randomly collecting my information for search recommendations in my active search session like "other people that searched for XYZ also searched for ABC" and highly personalized responses that it offers without any human filter or without any respect for session. If someone wants to look something up on your phone, you have to try to remember if you cleared search history after you looked up "remedies for that nagging rash" or whatever the case may be. I want my phone to be my personal computing device but I do not want to have to worry about what I did with it before I share it with someone else. How many awkward moments has Google created? How many anniversary/birthday surprises have Google given away because people share their devices?

It's not like my Droid RAZR is going to see Jelly Bean before the next OS release (Key Lime Pie?) next year.

If it actually added some useful cards for me I'd like it on one of my home screens, but I've been using Jelly Bean heavily all day, searching among other things, and the only card I still have really is the weather...

I've been using it since the 28th and today was the first day that I noticed that my house is now recognized! I stopped by my parents house, while I was there I looked at my phone and it told me the route I typically take home would take about 36 min with a bit of a delay. Thought that was pretty sweet! I knew exactly which way to go based off of the traffic info they gave me. Looking forward to see how this pans out the smarter it gets!!!

could be a problem, if it aggregates all my searches and stuff and makes that my home screen, most of it would be naked women - at least after a weekend. Kinda hard to explain at work Monday, LOL!

using this now on my Nexus its amazing along with the magazine app its not a widget you slide up on the lock screen and its there.

"Right now it's just an app within Jelly Bean."

If that's the case, why hasn't it been ripped? XDA Devs, you're slackin lol

I agree. It is not an app. Its built into Jellybean. Its not a standalone app like crappy S-Voice is. I still wish that somehow XDA Devs can ripp Google Now so we all can use it.

Agreed. I refuse to buy from eBay because most are profiting from that, but it isn't a rip off from CPW because the actual phone is worth the money, it's just Google sell it extraordinarily cheap.

When Google Now becomes the homescreen of stock Android, a lot of people will grow love for Touchwiz, Timescape and ugh, Sense... any custom UI that makes all of Google's creepy stalking display optional.

I like Google Now. It would be cool to have it as widget on the homescreen. Don't know why you guys think its a bad idea, but I like it. And like how CeluGeek said about custom ui. I hate custom UI. Why can't manufactures just leave it alone and have everyone the same android experience? Thats why I rooted my HTC One S and flashed CM9. I love the stock UI of ICS. So smooth and I love the black and blue color scheme.

I'm doing my best effort to avoid the Google services of all types. I've used Yahoo as a home screen for years and expect to continue with it. Since Google Shopping changed the policy to not list firearms or ammunition they have now adopted some of the China policies. I have very little trust in what Google will do with the tracked information. Bing is now the search engine. Screw Google and the gun grabber crowd.

Will Google be making an app for Google Now to be available of Ice Cream Sandwich and Gingerbread or will it be the main attraction to get people to get Jellybean phones. I think they should make it for Gingerbread and Froyo, since they are the two most available and used versions of Android today.

Exactly. That is the sole reason why I sent the Lumia 900 back. No ability to put a wallpaper on the phone.

It's just gonna be bullshit if we are forced to have less customization of the home scree/background. It's one of the great things about Android.

I'm just sad that Google's design philosophy language has been WHITE! LOTS AND LOTS OF WHITE! Not only is this just a world-wide power drain I much prefer darker themes - I hope there's customizations/themes added to the Android services soon.

I think it's best if Google Now is tucked away. If you want to check it out, you go to it. I don't think it should be front and center.

Been using JB 4.1 for a day and a half now. Google Now is actually pretty cool. Amazingly predictive.

I never use the Google Search function. I always use Dolphin or Dragon Go; I also have Save Searches in Google set to No; so does that mean this app/widget/thing is completely useless to me?

Serious question.

Opened up quite a debate. I think it's a great idea.

Remember people Android is customisable so you will have a choice what your home screen will be or look like.