Lately, I’ve seen two schools of thought: those who love Google Now, and those who don’t. Blogger and fellow Android Visionary show host, Mike Fuller, posted this Google+ thread that got me thinking more about the issue of Google Now. I’m obviously on team “Google Now is Great,” but Mike makes some (well, one) compelling arguments about the nonessential nature of Google Now.
Mike says, “I don’t get enough from Google Now to make it worthwhile. I can ask Google for the same info with a button press and I get the same info.” My counter was simple: widgets.
But Mike makes a good point. Essentially he’s saying, since Google Now is just an expanded version of Google Voice Search, why have it? The “necessity” of Google Now is even less if you don’t use the Google Now widget.
Google Now excels at giving you information
My primary love for Google Now comes from the Google Now widget. I really like having various bits of information displayed on my homescreen.
When my San Francisco 49ers play football, or I have a package coming, it’s nice to see the “what’s happening now” content. Though usually, Google Now isn’t much more than a good way to see what the weather is.
Of course, the weather is available from other, more robust weather apps. And if package tracking is all that important, Gmail offer that, too.
Certainly, I’m a fan of the flight information card that displays departure and arrival times, and even gives a small tracker to show where the plane is. But that tracker only works with an internet connection, and frankly, I never get the in-flight WiFi.
But Search is where Now really helps
Unfortunately, too many people conflate Google Now with Google Voice search. Google Now is a Voice Search option, not a requirement. As Mike points out, the same information available in Google Now is available by actually searching Google – it just takes a few more seconds to retrieve.
Similarly, voice commands are not Google Now-specific. In fact, they are technically appendages of Voice Search.
And, if you’re not familiar with voice commands, check out this post.
Truthfully, most of my useful elements of Google Now actually come from voice commands. In fact, I’m constantly commanding Google to call, text, email, or give me directions, as opposed to tracking packages, viewing sports scores, or seeing the latest television programs.
So really, when you extrapolate Google Voice Search from Google Now, perhaps Mike was right. Perhaps Google Now is just a novelty.
But I can’t get by without my Google Now
Novelty or not, I’m not ready though to throw in the towel and totally ditch Google Now. I like my Now cards that display in their widget, and I’m especially fond of some of the useful connections, such as to my calendar.
What most people want is a Siri alternative for Android, and as Google’s development teams keeps improving search and voice commands, Google Now will get closer to becoming a truly useful assistant.
However, if you “wanna be like Mike,” and ditch your Google Now, it’s pretty easy:
- Open Google (Google app)
- Click Menu (3 dots in the lower right corner)
- Click Settings
- Toggle Google Now to off
Turning off Google Now disables all cards and the Google Now widget. Be warned, you may feel a little exposed after dropping your cards.
What are your thoughts on Google Now’s necessity? Is it just a novelty item for you, or do you actually, truly use the content?