It used to be that search online was relatively simple.  You went to Google or Yahoo or Bing and typed what you were looking for into the box and got a list of results.  There have been several innovations adding to this over the years from social search to local search, Google Now is sold as their combination and culmination.   ‘Now’ is a virtual assistant made up of two separate parts, a natural language interface and passive informational cards.

Natural Language Interface

This is a complicated way of saying that you can talk to it and it will answer questions and try and do as you ask it to.  This could be simple such as “Email Chris” or more complicated “Note to self …” which can create a reminder note with whatever you say in it.  There isn’t an exhaustive list of commands as more are always rolling out but this is the best I’ve found.

The Cards

The second aspect of Google Now is its cards.  Google uses the information that it knows about you from searches, Gmail, Calender and your location and offers you information and advice on cards based on that.    This can range from simple weather forecasts based on your location to Birthdays, sports results and travel directions.  As with voice directions there are a large number of cards and some are listed here.

Google Now launched on Android 4.1 in July 2012 and came to iOS (in the Google Search app) earlier this year and is currently in the process of rolling out into Chrome on the desktop.  Its one of those tools that you don’t think will be useful but if you are part of the Google ecosystem quickly makes itself indispensable.

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