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8/14/2013
07:02 PM
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Google Search: 5 New Ways To Get More Personal

Google enhances its search service to answer more questions about your scheduled travel plans, purchases and more.

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Google Search is about to get even more useful as a tool to find information about recent and planned activities.

On Wednesday, the company said that it plans to provide responses to a specific set of queries with personalized answers culled from data stored in other Google services, including Gmail, Google Calendar, Google+, and Google Drive.

Google product manager Roy Livne in a blog post said that over the next few days, the company will update Google Search for all U.S. English-speaking desktop, smartphone and tablet users to make it easier to get answers to certain queries, whether typed or spoken.

[ What's the latest on Google Glass? Read Google Glass Adds Path, Evernote Voice Commands. ]

Google is currently presenting this kind of information using Google Now Cards, but it distributes those unbidden, when its algorithms deem delivery appropriate. By building this functionality into Google Search, the company is also making Google Now-style responses available on-demand.

The new options include:

Flights
By typing or saying, "Is my flight on time?" Google will tell you, assuming there's some record of your flight stored in a Google service like Gmail. Google can't answer questions like "Will my flight be enjoyable?" but really, do you have to ask?

Reservations
Ask for "my reservations" and you'll see results for pending dinner reservations. Ask for "my hotel" and you'll be shown your hotel's name and address. Tap on the results and get driving directions. Now that you don't have to remember any of that, imagine what you'll be able to do with all that extra space in your brain. And if nothing comes to mind, Google probably has a few suggestions.

Purchases
Say or type "my purchases" and find all those in-app purchases your kids made on your credit card and track the status of incoming gifts to yourself.

Plans
Asking "What are my plans for tomorrow?" will return a list of dinner, hotel and airline reservations, along with other time-specific events. Just don't expect Google to know what you neglected to enter in Calendar.

Photos
The query "Show me my photos from Disneyland" will prompt Google to show you whatever pictures from Disneyland you have stored in Google+ Photos. Google says it will also return photos of things it can recognize, like sunsets.

Google insists the data it's pulling from your other Google services is secure and encrypted, but if that's not enough of a reassurance, you can disable the service for a single session via the globe icon that appears at the top of search results pages. The service can be disabled permanently through the "Private results" section in search settings.

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Cara Latham
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Cara Latham,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/17/2013 | 2:31:17 AM
re: Google Search: 5 New Ways To Get More Personal
I'm assuming you have to be extremely specific when it comes to entering plans into Google Calender. The only way I can see Google providing me info on dinner reservations is if I take the time to enter the restaurant name. Instead of simple writing, "Dinner with Bill," I'd have to enter more details. But in doing so, Google also gets to store data on me and use it to customize other experiences...interesting.
Becca L
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Becca L,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/15/2013 | 7:15:40 PM
re: Google Search: 5 New Ways To Get More Personal
It's like they're trying to be my personal assistant. Or Siri. Very interesting move... Now I just have to remember these features are there!
KMBurnham
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KMBurnham,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/15/2013 | 1:50:07 PM
re: Google Search: 5 New Ways To Get More Personal
I can see how some of this will be useful, but because flight, reservation and purchase information is usually sent to Gmail, that's probably where I'd continue to look first. Just a matter of habit.
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