I like Google Now. I like the idea. I like the look. I like the little cards and the updating widget. Honestly I like Google Now.
Despite all its promises of putting the zing into organising (ho ho ho) my life I’m finding it’s falling flat. It simply isn’t giving me any useful or interesting stuff, just reports on the weather and how long it will take me to drive to work, both facts I’m usually aware of and don’t need. The cards are, as I’ve said, a lovely idea but I can’t get lots of them to actually pop up and the ones that do aren’t necessarily the ones I’d like to. Let me list a few examples:
Weather: Sure the weather is always updated and displayed by Now and it leads to a lovely sliding bar forecast thing when clicked on but I’ve never cared about the weather, hell it’s the first widget I remove from phones so it sort of irks me that I have to keep it in Now because even though I know I can turn it off in the settings, if I did 90% of the time my Now widget would be blank!
Travel: I’m writing this on a Sunday morning so why is Now telling me how long it would take me to drive to work? Surely by now it should know I don’t work weekends? Also, when I am driving to or from work Now has never once alerted me of long delays due to accidents on the motorway – even when I’ve ended up stuck in one for over an hour. If Now is telling me there are no delays, I kind of want that to be true but instead I have to check an RAC app or the BBC travel news web page to be absolutely sure. On top of that, I really don’t like the fact that if I search for information about a place, Now takes it upon itself to show me directions there whether I’m planning to go there or not. If I want directions I’ll ask because for them, whereas what Now is doing is cluttering up my card stack with spam I then have to clean out!
Sports: I have zero interest in sport but my dad loves it so I took the opportunity to plug his footie team into Now so the match dates and scores would pop up and I could txt him a congratulations or commiserations message. Despite being able to pick his team (they aren’t some obscure Accrington Stanley affair after all) I’ve never yet received one update or score. Why?
Upcoming events: I have a surfeit of calendars – work, mine and a family one are the three most active and it seems that Now only wants to display the next single event which isn’t always what I want to know about. If I’m in London the chances are I want Now to be telling me about my 1pm meeting across town from my work calendar and not to be reminding me my daughter is in nursery all afternoon 200+ miles away because that event happens at 12.30. I find that I’m pretty much on top of an event before Now delivers me a reminder card and that’s when I realise that when they say Google Now, they really mean Now and that’s not how I live. I tend to live roughly one day into the future and what I need from my electronic PA is my full agenda shown to me stretching from “Get up!” all the way to “Time to climb the wooden hill, boyo!”
All in all I just want Now to be more… more… useful and less general. I want it to truly learn about me and start predicting what I want to know. Why can’t it follow what I watch on YouTube or read on the web or buy from the Play store and Amazon or play on Steam and start telling more about the stuff I like. Tell me all my appointments for the whole day but also when a new Elite developer diary comes out. Tell me when traffic has snarled up but also tell me when a new shoot em up is on sale at Steam. Learn who I am and tell me what I want to know when I want to know it. Oh, and can I have that Now, please? 😀