Google Now: Can Google Win Search For Good By Making It Less Important?

Chris CrumSearch

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Google made a lot of announcements at Google I/O, some grander than others, but some of them were directly related to search.

Google's new version of Android, Jellybean, comes with improved Knowledge Graph visualization, a Siri competitor, and something called Google Now, which may be how Google is looking at search from here on out.

"We’ve redesigned search from the ground up in Jelly Bean, with a new user interface and faster, more natural Voice Search," says Andy Rubin, Senior Vice President of Mobile and Digital Content at Google. "You can type your query or simply ask Google a question. Google can speak back to you, delivering a precise answer, powered by the Knowledge Graph, if it knows one, in addition to a list of search results."

"Today’s smart devices still rely on you to do pretty much everything—that is, until now," adds Rubin. "Google Now is a new feature that gets you just the right information at just the right time. It tells you today’s weather before you start your day, how much traffic to expect before you leave for work, or your favorite team's score as they’re playing. There’s no digging required: cards appear at the moment you need them most."

Google has been talking about this concept for years: pushing information to you before you even have to search. Google has long been all about speeding up the search process. What's faster than giving it to you before you even know you needed it? That appears to be the strategy with Google Now. It will be interesting to see if the execution matches the concept.

Google Now uses your search history, your location history, and your calendar to decide what information you need to know. Remember that big privacy policy consolidation Google announced earlier this year? That allowed Google to use your data between services more easily, and this seems to be a big feature that will benefit from that.

Google Now, as the company explained in a keynote speech, figures out when you commute from home to work, and back, and will tell you how long your route is. It will give you a faster route if there is a lot of traffic. Let's hop you don't get in an accident looking at your screen. For public transit, Google Now tells you when the next bus or train will arrive.

Google says Google Now will help you get to appointments on time. It will tell you when to leave, based on bus times, and how long it will take to get to the bus stop, how long the bus ride will take, etc. It will tell you if you have an upcoming flight you’ve searched for, and Google will keep you up to date on the status of the flight (delays, cancelations, etc.).

Google Now also hows you bars and restaurants around you as you walk down the street, and will recommend things to order at them when you actually go to one. That Zagat acquisition is looking even smarter now.

Google's greatest threat is decreased dependence on search. A source from the company has indicated in the past that he agreed. It seems interesting, then, that Google itself is launching a product, which could actually decrease the user's dependence on search.

Google knows people will use other apps and services for very specific things in instances where they may have once used search. If Google can get you the things you need in front of you before you even have a chance to seek them out using other apps, I'd call that a win.

Again, however, it will be in the execution.

Out of all of the things Google announced today, this could very well be one of the most significant in the long term.

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.