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Google Now is Becoming a More Serious Contender

Drowning Out Siri

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Google Now has never necessarily been inferior to Siri or Cortana, but it’s never really had any kind of killer instinct about it. Sure, the direct link between it and Google means that search and information requests come through at lightning speed and it responds brilliantly to more conversational vocal input (if for example you ask it two questions about Russell Brand, but refer to him only as ‘him’ in the second, it’ll still know who you’re on about) but I can’t imagine many people rushing out to get a Samsung phone purely on the basis of having it.

It’s just become a lot more powerful though. One of the biggest sticking points with these voice controlled smartphone hubs is integration with third party apps. It’s all well and good being able to interface with all the basics that phones and tablets come outfitted with like calendars and scheduling apps but it’s hardly revolutionary. Easier, more streamlined access to more advanced apps is a far bigger deal and Google Play has now been expanded to work with 70 additional third party apps including Spotify, OpenTable, Jawbone, Glow, Skyscanner, Tripadvisor, eBay, The Guardian, Hootsuite, Runkeeper and many, many more.

Siri was already compatible with a fair few of these, but what Google have (rather cleverly) done is to interface the hub with multiple different apps which do (more or less) the same job. Zipcar and Grabtaxi are both available, for instance, so users aren’t left behind due to their preference for a particular app over another one.

The way the information is actually presented to you has also had a lick of paint. Before, Google Now operated pretty much exactly like Siri, pulling up the necessary information in whatever way was most convenient but now there’s a ‘card’ system. What this does is to pull up information relevant to what you’re searching for or being notified about. For example, if you were to ask Google Now about a nearby park you might see a card about the weather in that area, whether or not there are applicable opening times and traffic reports or public transport options. If you mark an appointment as a dinner, it might suggest restaurants and link you straight to a reservation at the time you specified.

This kind of streamlining is exactly the kind of thing that will not only make Google Now more popular, but testify to how useful these hub systems can really be. I have an iPhone and I almost never use Siri because I’ve never found myself in a situation where it would be faster to do so than to just open the appropriate app. Advancements like this, geared towards synergy between apps have the potential to turn smartphone use into a far more fluid experience, so rather than tapping in and out of things, all the necessary resources exist in a kind of rippling ooze that flows according to what you need at any given moment.


I’m still not wild about having a conversation with my phone, or any other inanimate object, but if it reaches the point when I can basically book a holiday, reorganize my calendar to accommodate it, program directions to the hotel and set my alarm all in the space of 2 or 3 phrases, I might reconsider my stance.


Callum Davies

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF

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Google Now is Becoming a More Serious Contender Reviewed by Callum Davies on Friday, May 01, 2015 Rating: 5

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