Google has officially released it’s sought-after application, Google Now, to iOS devices, completing it’s availability to today’s top smartphones. Google Now was previously only available on Android powered devices. But the launch of this new smartphone application is more than just a Siri- competitor, more than just a voice-activated search engine, and certainly more than resource for asking trivia questions. The idea of Google Now sets the tone for how users interact with smartphone apps, and more specifically how they digest information.
Google Now is all about delivering the right information at the right time, when you aren’t even thinking about it. Google Now learns from your search behavior and customizes your “cards” based on your activity. It can show you the traffic when you’re out the door on the way to work, or inform you your flight is delayed before you even wake up. The best part is you don’t have to open several apps on your smartphone just to access this information. Before, if I wanted to check the traffic before I left to work I would have to open up Google maps, Waze, or some SIG alert to get the information I needed. With Google Now, that information is delivered to me when I need it most, as I’m getting ready for work, eating breakfast, or walking outside.
Thousands of people commute everyday using public transportation. The majority of those people are face down in their smartphones vigorously switching between Flipboard, NY Times or Forbes, games, Facebook, Twitter, text messages, sports scores, etc. You get the point. They are extremely distracted, and distracted by too many apps. With Google Now, I see the scores to last nights Boston Red Sox and Celtics games, and I also see upcoming games this week. I don’t need to tell Google I want this, it already knows because over the weekend I searched “boston celtics” to see if they won on Sunday (they did, and we didn’t get swept by the Knicks). Now if Google can deliver me relevant news stories on these teams at the same time, I would probably delete a few apps off my phone right now, ESPN’s Scorecenter and NBA Gametime among them.
Google Now also has the ability to recommend places nearby. If you’re in a rush, in a new city, and need to grab lunch, open up Google Now and you’re within a few minutes of the top rated restaurants nearby. Previously, you would have to open up Yelp, Urban Spoon, use Facebook, whatever you had to do to make sure you’re visiting the best possible restaurant. Yelp has too many “foodie” who think they are Emeril Lagasse offering their two cents that isn’t worth shit. I don’t trust Sally Johnson who’s visited every sub shop in Boston and spends her time rating restaurants on Yelp. Who is she? I don’t care, I don’t trust her. But I do trust Zagat. Zagat ratings are integrated with Google places, which integrates with Google Now. The card design in Google Now is extremely clean, easy to use, and offers just the right amount of information. If I wanted to, I could read more about the restaurant, reviews, etc. But most of the time you just need food now, and Google Now does exactly that.
It’s clear to see that Google Now has the ability to replace apps like Yelp, Scorecenter, Waze, Apple Maps (obviously, because it sucks), individual hotel and airline apps, finance apps, news apps, and more. But what’s more important is how we consume this content. Search is the most powerful resource consumers have to do things like research a product, check sports scores, get directions, find places to visit, get travel deals, and more. The idea that this content can be delivered to us, when we want it, advertisement free, and Google knows what we want, is a defining sign of where technology is going. Now if brands can just align themselves with this technology and help guide it and support it, they’ll have more success and prove stronger value to consumers.
I recently downloaded the Pocket app, thought it was pretty cool so figured I’d put together a little review of what I thought. Pocket (formerly known as Read It Later) was founded in 2007 by Nate Weiner for busy people on the go to be able to save articles, videos, webpages, other content and be able to read it later, on any device. Once you have the Pocket app downloaded to your devices, the content shows up on you phone, tablet or computer.
The immediate value here is let’s say you commute via subway to work and you know eventually you’re going to lose reception, so instead of spending the 10 minutes you do have reception reading one article, spend that time saving all the articles from that morning you would like to read. You do this on your phone or tablet using the pocket app and when you get to your desk, open up Pocket on your desktop and boom all your content from your subway ride is there.
Pocket also comes with a nifty Google chrome extension that allows you to save content directly from your browser. Say you’re reading ESPN.com in between work assignments and you get slammed with a new project. Save that article for later with Pocket, open it up on your mobile device on your way home and you’re back to into sports mode. In addition to the Chrome extension, users have the ability to email content to firstname.lastname@example.org for later reading. Pocket also integrates with over 300 other applications, like Twitter, Flipboard, Zite and Reeder.
There are plenty of other “save it for later” apps out there, Evernote comes to mind with the ability to clip content from the web, but the Pocket app is clean, simple, and the user interface doesn’t change much from device to device. It automatically syncs as well so you’re not wondering whether that last piece of content made it to your mobile.