Google Now: Your Personal Business Assistant
Smartphones are so ubiquitous these days that it’s easy to forget how far things have progressed. It wasn’t that long ago that the early generation of smartphones struggled to display text based web pages on their tiny browsers. Beyond the magic of touch, mobile apps, and high speed access to the full web, our phones are actually becoming intelligent.
Siri is probably the most famous example of this phenomenon. Google Now is Google’s version. Recently a friend was struck by how smart helpful Google Now is. Without any sort of prompting, his Android phone automatically notified him that his flight had a slight delay and that with current traffic conditions, he would need to take off in the next 45 minutes to make it on time. Pretty cool, eh?
So, What Exactly is Google Now, Anyway?
Google Now is essentially a smart virtual assistant. It keeps up to speed about your needs based on information gleaned from the rest of the Google products you use - Gmail, Calendars, Search and more. By using data collected within each subsection of the Google ecosystem, the system can accurately predict and even guide you on your day day tasks in real time.
The system works in two ways.
The first is proactive. Within the app are little cards that displays helpful updates and notifications. These cards can be customized and will include things such as your your next appointment, weather, traffic and commute times to commonly visited places, statuses of packages being delivered, sports scores, public transit schedules and much more.
For those of you on smart phones, this will also integrate with location services which means it will provide relevant data depending on your current location. An example of this being that if you’re waiting near public transit, Google Now will automatically report current bus or metro schedules. Outside of accessing the cards through the app, these will also be broadcast through notifications for Android users (iOS notifications for Google Now will be rolling out in the coming weeks).
The second method is more reactive, based on verbal commands. Some of the examples as listed by Google include:
- Weather: What’s the weather like tomorrow morning?
- Locations: Where’s the nearest pharmacy?
- Flight status: When does United Airlines flight 900 depart?
- Time: What time is it in London?
- Events: When is sunset?
- Math: What is the square root of 2209?
- Translation: How do you say cucumber in Spanish?
- Sports: When is the Red Sox game?
- Finance: How is the S&P 500 doing today?
- Trivia: How tall is the tallest building in the world?
- Conversions: How many dollars is 2600 rupees?
- Images: Show me pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge
Users on Android devices can also use the voice service to perform different task such as sending texts or emails, navigating with GPS, setting calendar reminders and timers, creating notes, and opening different applications.
How Business Users Can Benefit
Google Now can essentially be seen as a virtual employee for business users, making your work easier and saving you time.
Here is a small sample of the ways business users can benefit:
- Organization - Calendar events, tasks, and reminders will automatically be pushed out by notifications and through the card system.
- Travel - The system will keep those of commuting to work always on time by checking current traffic conditions to the places you frequent. Additionally for those of you flying out to an event, the app will ensure you’re never late.
- Search - Based on your search history, Google Now can automatically report matters such as product updates or news articles as soon as they’ve been released.
Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, recently mentioned in an interview that they will be stepping up efforts with Google Now and will be looking at expanding their Artificial Intelligence algorithms to further cater the tech to the business realm.
Setting Up Google Now for Your Business
Unlike personal accounts, the Google Now service is not enabled by default for organizations on Google Apps. This quick setup will require your domain administrator to login to make the following changes for your company:
Enter your domains control panel as the admin.
Select the Google Apps icon.
Select the Mobile option from the list.
In the mobile page, scroll down until you see the section marked Android Settings and select the checkbox next to Enable Google Now.
Android - Google Now is available to phones running the Jelly Bean 4.1 Operating system and higher.. To enable it, go to your apps and select Google. The menu button is in the lower right corner. Select Settings and turn Google Now on. Once enabled, notifications and reminders will automatically display and voice control features can be accessed by simply holding the home button. For more info check out Google Now on the Android Marketplace.
iOS - Users on iPhones and iPads will need to download the Google Search app which includes Google Now integration. Once installed you simply need to log in to to your Google Apps account and follow the onscreen instructions to enable the service. It should be noted that in the coming weeks Google will be releasing an update to the app to provider further integration and notifications to the iOS platform.