Is ‘Google Now’ Going to Phase Out Web Search?
The New York Times is calling it a robotic personal assistant. Yahoo! thinks it’s Google’s response to Apple’s competitor, Siri. But is Google Now, or what the industry is referring to as “predictive search” technology, really going to irrevocably change the way we use web search?
Google Now touts itself as the solution for anticipating what you need before you even ask for it. It’s currently already incorporated into Google Glass, available for the iPhone, iPad and Android devices Jelly Bean 4.1 or higher, sending users “helpful information cards” of, say, a traffic alert if you have an event approaching in your Google Calendar or Gmail inbox. While useful in some respects, especially if travelling (thanks to its location tracking abilities), Now isn’t equipped to answer all of your questions before you ask them.
For instance, it can’t tell you that you need to rent a tuxedo before a gala, but it surely can give you the directions on how to get there. It’s less of a personal assistant alternative, and more of a sophisticated push notification system. And it definitely can’t anticipate far beyond what is stored by you in your own Google Calendar or Gmail inbox, which means in order to maximize the app’s functionality, you’re going to spend much more time ensuring minutiae is entered into your schedule — which, arguably, can negate the novelty.
Google Now can help you get from point A to point B more seamlessly, but it’s not changing the way we use web search anytime soon. Another downfall is the annoyance factor. Who’s to say that all the alerts you receive regard topics you actually care about? You may find yourself bombarded by information useless to your current situation.
Until the app develops smart intelligence that will know exactly what is important to us, traditional web search will remain the go-to solution to find what we want, when we want it. That’s not to say the Now algorithms won’t develop to become a truly intuitive service, but may take a while to get to that point.