18 Jan 2013

Google Now - A New App for Smartphone Users

Google Now is an interesting new feature available to users of smartphones and tablets that run on the Android 4.1 “Jelly Bean” IOS. The Jelly Bean, launched in June 2012, is available on most new hardware sponsored by Google, including the Nexus 7 tablet and the Galaxy Nexus smartphone.


Google Now's main gee-wiz feature is its ability to interpret voice commands and verbally answer them. When a user activates Google Now, it will record his voice and scan full sentences looking for commands. Then it will speak back to the user while displaying written information on a “card” on the screen.

The speaker can ask Google Now to define a word, quote current stock prices, play a song, give directions, do math calculations, convert currency, give the weather in different cities, search the address book, or start an application. It can even answer general knowledge questions using Wikipedia as its source.

It also has what is called a passive mode in which it displays relevant information that the user didn't request. For example, when a user asks for directions to a local restaurant, Google Now will give those directions along with estimated driving time based on current traffic conditions.

Google Now
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Sending emails and texts

Google Now can search the user's device internally to get email addresses and phone numbers so that the user can verbally dictate and send an email or text message. If a user wants to make a note to himself, Google will record his voice and then send him an email with both a recording of what he said and a transcribed text.

What it can learn

The more that Google Now is used, the more it can do for the device owner. The virtual assistant is capable of figuring out the locations where it is used the most.  It will finally “learn” where the user lives and works and offer helpful travel tips.

For example, if a user wants to know when a game is being played at a certain stadium, Google will automatically calculate and display travel times between the user's home and the stadium. If Google Now cannot understand a word that the user speaks, the user can type the question or command, and the software then associate the typed word with the spoken one.

Also, if the user asks Google Now a question that it cannot answer, such as: “How high is the Empire State Building,” it will  learn that answer and be able to give the correct information the next time.

Using Google Now

To activate Google search, tap the search button on the Android Home Screen. Tapping a microphone icon allows the user to speak. When the user types or speaks a question, Google will decide whether to launch a standard Google search or start Google Now. If the question is answered in Google Now, the screen will display a box with graphics and speak the answer if applicable.

For example, if the query is: “What is the weather like in New York City.”  A box will appear with the temperature and weather conditions along with a spoken weather report. If the user is not satisfied with the answer, he can simply slide the card out of the way and see Google search results on the screen below it. Google Now is available on every smartphone that runs on the Jelly Bean IOS.


About the Guest Author:

Laura recommends visiting uSwitch.com before purchasing a phone to compare the deals and features available on the top smartphones in the UK.