aNewDomain.net – Google Now was released just a few weeks before I went to Las Vegas in 2012. I used the trip as a proving ground for Google Now, and wrote up my experiences on aNewDomain.net. It was the early days of Google Now and so much has improved since then. Google Now has become a go-to tool for managing my life. Here are some tips that have helped me get the most out of Google Now.
Always include a location when creating events in Google Calendar
All Image Credits: Shane P. Brady for aNewDomain.net
Including the location in everything I put into my Google Calendar has been helpful. Google Now takes that information and sends an alert so you have enough time to make your appointments. The alerts also give you the option of using Google Navigation to give you the best route to your meeting.
I have found the estimates of when you need to leave to be very accurate. I’ve tested this probably 20 times and I’ve never been more than a minute late. Often, I’m exactly on time. I was one of those people who thought I always knew the best route to get where I needed to go. Google Now has proven me wrong. I’ve now found new ways to get to old places I never thought of and saved hours of driving time.
Set up your Home and Work locations
The two places that people drive to the most are their own home and where they work. Setting this up allows Google Now to estimate commute times and tell you how long it will take to get home from wherever you are. This is handy even when you’re just out running errands.
Enable Gmail Cards
In late 2012, Google updated Google Now to pull information from your Gmail. This sounds trivial but it opened Google Now for all sorts of new things. The new function I use most is “Packages”. I order a lot of things from Amazon and NewEgg and they all become Google Now cards that keep me on top of everything I order. While not all merchants are supported, most of the big ones are.
There are other cards that will come up for flights, hotels, restaurants, and other frequently used services. What makes this such a genius idea for Google is that it takes a common information exchange platform (email) and uses the power of its network to pull the valuable bits of information and present it to the user. Google doesn’t have to rely on merchants implementing anything. This makes implementation and innovation faster.
Get in the habit of checking Google Now
The gesture for accessing Google Now is to hold down the “Home” icon and swipe up. If you’re at a lock screen, the “Home” icon is replaced by a little orb where the “Home” icon normally is. Getting into this habit will bring you news articles, research, weather reports, interesting places nearby and all sorts of great content. I consider checking Google Now to be as useful, if not more, than checking my email.
Google Now is a technology I use every day. It has a different approach to the “virtual assistant” concept than Apple’s Siri. It’s one that plays to Google’s strengths of processing information. I have an Apple iOS device and have tested Siri, but it just doesn’t provide me with the kind of things I’m looking for. I think anyone on Android Jellybean should be investing time into Google Now, because the rewards are so great.
Based in New York Shane P. Brady is a senior contributor at aNewDomain.net and deep tech reviewer. Contact him at Shane@aNewDomain.net.