At the annual I/O developer conference, Google announced a major new feature called Google Now that is intended to compete directly with Apple’s Siri. The new feature, which will debut on Android 4.1 (a.k.a. Jelly Bean) later this month, uses a series of “cards” that automatically provide users with information related to weather, traffic, appointments, travel, flights, public transit, places, and sports. When Google Now anticipates a need, it will automatically display an appropriate information card for the user.
Instead of relying solely on a user’s input, Google Now can also perform searches and tasks automatically based on the current circumstances. For example, if someone has previously searched for a flight, Google Now will automatically provide pertinent information such as gate changes and delays for that user. In addition, the new feature will alert the user if the travel time to the airport is substantially longer than normal, and it will automatically provide an alternate route if necessary.
During his keynote speech, Hugo Barra, Android’s Director of Product Management, said the following of Siri’s new competition:
“Google Now gets you just the right information at just the right time, and all of it happens at the right time. For example, Google Now figures out when you commute from home to work and back, tells you how long your commute takes usually, and gives you a faster route if there’s a lot of traffic. On public transit, if you’re on the platform at a subway, Google tells you when the next bus or train will arrive.”
Since Google Now is powered by the Knowledge Graph, Google’s most powerful algorithms and the latest research will help ensure Siri’s new competition is providing accurate information. The Knowledge Graph is a semantic intelligence database that compiles reliable information from sources such as Wikipedia, Freebase, and the CIA Factbook and measures relationships between the data. The Knowledge Graph is currently comprised of over 500 million entities and 3.5 billion relational facts. Google has previously stated that the Knowledge Graph is central to the “next generation of search” and will help Google better understand users and their needs.
Jelly Bean is expected to debut later this month. A preview version of the new Android OS is already available.