Telltale code on a Google test web page suggests that Google Now, the service that displays appointments and other personalized info on Android screens, will soon be part of the desktop.
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Google Now, the predictive search tool introduced last summer for Android devices, is about to become much more important to Google's search business.
Among several areas of expansion, Google Now is expected to be introduced for iOS devices, although the timing remains up in the air. Also, it is being made available in Google Chrome, either as an extension or as a built-in service. The technology or a variant of the concept is being used in Google Glass. Finally, Google appears to be planning to integrate Google Now results on its search homepage.
Although the layout of Google Now information on Google's homepage remains to be seen, the function of Google's predictive search system is easier to anticipate: It will serve as an alternative to iGoogle, the personalized Google homepage that will be discontinued in November 2013. It will encourage Google users to sign in to their Google Accounts. And it will make other Google services more accessible and timely.
During Google's Q1 2013 earnings conference call earlier this month, CEO Larry Page pointed to Google Now as an example of a promising service, noting how the company is using it to anticipate users' needs by automatically displaying traffic conditions, package delivery updates, movie tickets and other info. He also talked about how voice commands will become much more important as computing shifts to mobile devices, due to the hassle of typing while on the go.
Given a mobile world where typing is constrained and awkward, Google has to develop alternative modes of interaction. In the pre-iPhone era, before the mobile revolution was obvious, Google pitched search as a command line for the world. That made sense at a time when keywords entered into the search box command line earned ad revenue.
But with the advent of devices such as Google Glass and the forthcoming Leap Motion controller, it has become clear that input extends beyond the keyboard to include voice, touch, gesture and algorithms that identify images and locations. Google Now shows how Google is adapting to the new normal: You're not searching enough on your mobile because it's a hassle, so we'll search for you and send you the results.
Back in March 1997, Wired ran a cover story that posited pull technology, a.k.a. browsing the Web, would be shoved aside by push technology, in which personalized information gets delivered to users.
The push revolution played out as predicted. Now, 16 years later, with the torrent of social and location data coming from mobile devices, the push model is even more feasible, at least for certain scenarios.
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