Of the new Android 4.1 Jelly Bean OS features, none have been more talked about than Google Now. Google has promised a “more than just another” virtual assistant that competes with Apple Siri and it has the ability to advise you on certain actions through smart “cards”. These cards will help monitor the weather, showing the location and the recommendations of nearby places, recommending information that you need at the right time. They are meant to be unobtrusive, appearing only when you need them.
What the cards do?
- Traffic, to help users to arrive at the desired place, it works together with the calendar to tell you what time to leave for your destination.
- Public Transit, presented information on public transportation such as transit terminals, bus stops and so forth.
- Next Appointment, serves as reminder that will remind users of appointments made and mark the corresponding location on the map.
- Flights, flight schedule information presented.
- Sports, to bring the information up-to-date about the sport.
- Places, helps users find a restaurant or a hotel around the attractions visited and add reviews about the place.
- Weather, weather information present residential users.
- Translation, online dictionary based on Google Translate.
- Currency, presenting information on the currency exchange rate countries.
- Time at Home, to present information at the time the user is in another time zone.
The idea is that these cards appear naturally as you go about your day, giving you information that you were about to search for anyway. Within the interface, you can swipe them away or tap on them for more details, but you cannot directly re-order them. Rather, you’re just supposed to use Google search as you normally would (preferably extensively) — to search for restaurants, get directions, check sports scores, and the like. As you do, Google keeps an eye on your activities and then offers up the cards it believes are relevant to your interests. The idea is that simply through organic use of your phone, Google Now will be able to predict what kind of information you may need and have it ready for you with a simple swipe up from the home button — and in some cases Google also gives you notifications that there are new cards available.
The feature impressed me so much that I wanted to load Google Now but my Optimus 2x was still running on Gingerbread. Hence, when I realised that the folks at XDA were able to create a package for ICS, it spurred my decision to install Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0.3 on my LG Optimus 2x. While not the most ideal OS, the ability of Google Now, the offline voice searches has won me over. So if you are using an ICS phone, do check out the following instructions to install Google Now. The latest version is amazing and is well-integrated into ICS, with almost all features enabled and generally bug-free. The only problem I have so far is that at times you can’t exit Google Now! with the Back button and have to use the Home button instead.
- Download the selected GoogleNow version
- Reboot your device into recovery. See your device’s specific instructions on how to do this if you are not sure.
- In CWM, navigate to “Install zip from SD” and select that.
- Next, highlight “Choose zip from SD card” and select it.
- Scroll down to the Google Now zip you loaded onto your SD card, then select it.
- Scroll down and select the option that says “Yes – Install Google Now….zip”
- Once it has flashed, go back to the main CWM menu and select “Reboot system now”.
I am very impressed by Google Now and as it is, even out of the United States, it is still very much useful to me. It has no problem finding the Esplanade and telling it “Navigate to 238464” for example works as well. Just about an hour ago, I asked my phone where is the nearest gas station and it accurately showed me the way to my nearest Caltex Station. Its off to a great start and I am sure it will only get better in future. Go ahead, load Google Now on your phone and ask it to do a barrel roll!