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April 21, 2017updated 27 Oct 2023 5:34am

What is Google Now?

What is Google Now? As one of the most commonly used digital assistants in the world its important to know exactly how it works.

By Joe Clark

Google Now is a digital personal assistant, and commonly known as Google’s answer to Apple’s Siri, or Microsoft’s Cortana.

However, Google Now has so much more to offer than what consumers have come to expect from a personal assistant.

Of course, Google Now can perform all of the usual services and tasks that digital assistants are capable of, such as set reminders, understand voice commands, tell us the weather, monitor activity, and so forth. The key difference with Google Now however, is its smart learning capabilities.

Google Now is one of a few programmes in the world that gets better with consistent use. By engaging with Now more frequently, it is capable of learning more about the user and presenting them with content or information that they are much more likely to engage with.

Now also differs from Siri and Cortana in the way that it is not platform specific. Whilst Cortana and Siri are limited to their proprietary devices, Now is available in app form through both iOS and Android OS, on the app store and Google Play store respectively.

Google Now’s history began in earnest in 2011, when rumours circulated that the company was enhancing its voice software for the next range of Android devices, prompting ideas that Google would be releasing a Siri competitor. Google Now was unveiled the following year.

However, the name Now had largely been phased out by October 2016 and This was due to Google’s increased drive to introduce Google Assistant as the company’s dominant personal assistant.

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But what does Google Now do these days?

Since release Google Now has received numerous updates and improvements and currently boasts such services as Google Cards, which can display relevant information regarding flight times, or weather updates onscreen as a reminder.

Other additions to the software include monitoring concert ticket, movie tickets, or hotels, in order to ensure users are aware of what’s going on and that they don’t miss out on anything relevant to their interests.

Similarly, Now’s location based services can identify any restaurants or public places in the vicinity, along with ant news it thinks aligns with the user.

However, there was a time when the programme suffered with an infamous search mixup, this was due to the fact that the assistant pulls its information from anywhere that Google deems relevant, whereas Siri pulls information from specific sources.

This difference led to Google Now basing some of its findings on opinion pieces rather than verified facts, leading to some problematic answers. For instance, one example found that when asked who the King of the United States was, the software pulled its answer from far right outlets proclaiming that King Barrack Obama was the Emperor of the United States.

With the launch of the Google Pixel smartphone in 2016, Google Now had previously been operated from within the apps on both Android and iOS. Google Assistant on the other hand was given the top billing on the Pixel smartphone and became the default option when users activated the home button.

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