In a single app, the company has combined its latest technologies: voice search that understands speech like a human brain, knowledge of real-world entities, a (somewhat creepy) understanding of who and where you are, and most of all its expertise at ranking information. Google has taken all of that and turned it into an interesting and sometimes useful feature, but if you look closely you can see that it’s more than just a feature, it’s a beta test for the future.
It’s quite a bold statement to make, but I think it’s accurate. I believe Google Now will become the most salient differentiator of Android devices compared to other operating systems in the next 24 months. The product leverages Google’s investments in machine learning across all the disciplines above and carves a huge moat between Android and iOS (and Windows).
I think Apple will continue to differentiate iOS using hardware design. Windows is leveraging its OS design differences. And Google will use search.
In the video below, Hugo Barra, the head of product for Google Now, asks for “directions to the museum with the William Paley exhibit” and Google Now returns navigation instructions to the De Young Museum, reacting just like a person might.
Examples of human-computer interaction like this one truly seem to be magic because they dissolve the barrier in communication between the two.
You can watch the 15 minute video here: