Google Now Great for providing access to your surroundings
by Jeffrey Stark
October 24th, 2012
Google released a new feature called "Google Now" in their latest version of the Android OS called Jelly Bean.
Google Now is a screen that contains "cards" of concise information that Google has guessed you might need, "now". You simply tap the "Google" icon from your desktop, the search icon or voice search icon and the "Google now" screen appears just below your search bar. Google Now takes information that it already knows about you, such as, your location, the time of day, the types of searches you have made in the past, your contacts, your calendar etc. and guesses at what information you need at that precise moment. What is truly interesting is that a lot of the information Google Now presents is information that enables a person who is blind to gain access to information that otherwise would be posted in their surroundings in an inaccessible format. For example, when you are at an airport, it lists flights departures and arrival times,when you are near a bus terminal it will list the buses that leave from that terminal and the time to the next departure for each bus. It will also automatically show you the bus route to work in the morning and the route to get home in the afternoon/evening, (including transfer points, time to next bus and estimated total trip time). This is all done with no intervention on the user's part but simply information that Google Now thinks would be useful. What I found truly interesting is that if you go into the settings for transit/traffic cards, you can also have it show routes & departure times when near any public transit stops. If you set the location of a meeting in your calendar, when the appointment is coming near, Google Now will display travel information and estimated arrival times for getting to your meeting.
This is only scratching the surface of the useful things that Google Now can provide.