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Google Now (Android/Nexus) watching you - future of search?

 7:11 pm on Nov 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

With Android 4.2, launching alongside the Nexus 4 and Nexus 10 on November 13th, Google has updated the feature with new information cards in new categories. And yet, the amount of engineering effort that makes Google Now possible is out of proportion to what it does ó it's a massive, cross-company effort for what seems like a relatively small product. That difference is a clue. Google Now isn't important for what it does, well, "now," but the building blocks are there for a radically different kind of platform in the future.

We sat down with the teams responsible for some of the technology that went into Google Now to find out what makes it tick today and discover some hints about what it could be in the future.




 7:55 pm on Nov 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

Wow - that's quite a piece. No doubt about Google's interest in personalizing search in a big way, for those who give permission at least.

The Google that you're interacting with in Google Now is very different than the Google you used even a year ago. The company's products have often felt fragmented, serving small niches and launched without feeling fully thought-through - and then in too many cases simply killed off. That may have been a function of the fact that Google is so large and does so much - but Google Now is a sign that all the different parts of Google are finally working together in a cohesive way.


 8:15 pm on Nov 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

Interesting and scary at the same time not only personally but also where we as webmasters will fit in. Do we have to pay to be on the cards? I know I aol never give anybody access to my private data like that.


 8:19 pm on Nov 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

Thought You'd like that one Ted..:)
So ...
as we have speculated, and pretty much deduced since a while ago..the future of search is mobile..and it has a name.. Now..

and how will SERPs of 10 slots with surrounding ads fit into that ..

Simple ..it doesn't..

lots of things that work on desktop ( adwords, adsense, etc )..won't/ don't fit in.. Now..

Explains all the "watching" that I've seen them doing and posted about..their data gathering means each of us gets our own SERP..and soon our own interaction..

*Anyone else still not minded of "Minerva / Pallas Athena" ( Teena ) in "Time enough for Love"..and a little touch of "The forever wars"...

*Yes..my references are not those of Amit..( Star Trek indeed !) I'm older than Amit..


 10:31 pm on Nov 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

After reading that article I remembered about a book that a friend on mine highly recommended that I should read. It's about how today's technology is molding our brains in a less than favourable way. Apparently within the book there is a chapter related to google in particular.

I just tracked it down at a local library branch and placed a hold on it. I think it's finally time to dig into this subject more closely based on what I read in that article.

If anyone is interested it's call The Shallows written by Nicholas Carr. Should be an interesting read, as well as highly related to google's "vision".


 11:46 pm on Nov 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

Been using Google Now since I got the Nexus 7 and so far, big whoop.

It has such potential but so far kind of lame.


 12:16 am on Nov 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

Last line of the article is the best! Great write-up with lots of insight. Thanks very much for posting!


 10:08 am on Nov 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

Trying to turn search into a best friend? The article points out that Google will know when your package will arrive and when your wife is home, that's a little personal imo, ok a lot.


 6:58 pm on Nov 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

Interesting and scary at the same time not only personally but also where we as webmasters will fit in. Do we have to pay to be on the cards?

I think webmasters will fit and if they dont then it could also be good news.

If Google start to provide the info directly by effectively scraping the web and webmasters lose the traffic, those webmasters may choose to block Google. It could effectively allow other "search engines" to gain ground.

Neural networks are decades away from being able to provide 100% effective search solutions IMO, if ever. They might get to direct questions pretty quickly but there are a host of queries that don't require a single answer. Or that require opinion. Or are so obscure only one source has the correct answer so there is no comparative evaluation source.

If Google Now can't provide effective answers to 99% (or close to it) of search queries, it opens the door for it's competitors. And Google undoubtedly knows that. Which is why I think they will need webmaster support; but that doesn't mean we won't have to adapt.

There is also the question of who owns the data but that's a whole different debate.


 7:20 pm on Nov 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

It's about consumer acceptance, the icky factor may start running a bit high when you factor in the ad overlay (conveniently not mentioned in the article) with a marketers surveillance.

remind me to turn on the coffee pot > okay > phone call from coffee delivery service....dear sir why would you want to make your own coffee when we can hand you a cup on your way to work? You do walk down elm street every week day morning at 6:50 AM.

Some people might embrace that sort of thing, others maybe not so much. Real life deal with that thing may be akin to having a perma-marketer in your pocket/ear all day long.

[edited by: TypicalSurfer at 7:29 pm (utc) on Nov 3, 2012]


 7:29 pm on Nov 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

when you factor in the ad *overlay* (conveniently not mentioned in the article)

Yes..that was an interesting journalistic "omission"..

*sign of where ad delivery on mobile is headed* which leads to the question ..what place for adsense in an "overlayed" world ?


 8:10 pm on Nov 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

*sign of where ad delivery on mobile is headed* which leads to the question ..what place for adsense in an "overlayed" world ?

"I donít know the details of the particular queries on the Google Desktop, but I can tell you I think like for example in Travel we bought IT software for a sizable amount, we thought it was important to provide a better experience there, when you type cities and you want an airline ticket, you actually need that detailed information," -- Lawrence Page [seekingalpha.com ]

I'm not so sure web publishers are really part of that picture. Larry made no bones about displaying in-house results to users. If your goal is to monetize the user experience why would you throw in random elements, things like web sites that you do not control?


 8:30 pm on Nov 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

Kind of what I was thinking too..


 3:20 am on Nov 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

I think this is interesting and without going into all of my thoughts on the subject, because I really don't feel like typing that much...

It really comes down to what people visit the web for ... Yes, there are some things Google (M$ & Apple) can do that will take visitors away from some sites, but at the same time, the web is still made up of websites and much like cities I haven't been to, I personally enjoy visiting them and my gut feeling is, other people do too...


 3:52 am on Nov 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

Right, and after reading the conference call transcript (thanks TypicalSurfer) it seems to me that Google is just positioning itself to win on every front possible, with the obvious new upside being in mobile users. Google Now does not necessarily kill Adsense, it is just a new way to market to people on other screens. Of course, I'm sure bits that work there will be incorporated into Search.

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