07
Jun
zzzzzz

It's Saturday night. You've spent the last six hours partaking of the fruit of the vine in pleasant company (read: you're so drunk that your date is getting a contact buzz). Being the public-minded and responsible drinker you are, you elect to take the bus home. All seventeen stops. After a night out with your friends Morgan, Daniels, and Cuervo, it's difficult to stay awake on the rolling bus. You miss your stop and end up so far from home that you might as well stay on the bus and wait to get off in the morning.

2014-06-07

If this situation sounds familiar to you, you'll love the newest feature added to Google Now on Android. If you open Google Now when you're using public transportation, it may offer an integrated alarm for saved locations like home and work. The alarm knows where and approximately when you should exit - just tap it, and it will alert you before you get there, overcoming the drinking you did earlier in the evening (or previous evening) and saving you a missed stop.

This is an interesting addition to Google Now - it doesn't seem to hook into the alarm function of the standard Clock app. Just tap it once to set the alarm, then again to disable it if necessary. Your mileage may vary, quite literally, since public transit support isn't available in all areas. (The screenshot above is from the Netherlands.)

Thumbnail via The Atlantic. Thanks, Ian and Ritish!

Michael Crider
Michael is a native Texan and a former graphic designer. He's been covering technology in general and Android in particular since 2011. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

  • slurivariv

    I was just in Amsterdam; recognized Spui! :D This would've been great while I was there. Can't wait to try it out on my commute to work on Monday (just to see if it works)

  • Tricky103

    I have done that exact journey asleep haha haha that is funny as....

  • schoentoon

    Guess I will be sleeping in the train to my parents tomorrow :D

  • Amarus Kh

    I wonder how well that would work for underground transportations. I suppose I can find out for myself Monday!

    • Gregory

      IMO, it should work if there is the network coverage on your station because that'd be enough to determine your location. I'll test this on Monday if it supports this for my city's subway.

    • WORPspeed

      the alarm goes off based on time, (estimated arrival time) doesn't need location or internet once alarm is set I believe

    • Andrew

      Yeah, since a small fraction of NYC subway stations have cellular coverage, I can't really count on this alerting me.

  • Xarlos

    If it works as well as the Google Now reminder for locations, like "Remind me when I get home" I imagine I'll continue to miss my stop.

    • Johnathan Pertolick

      There work fine for me, very reliable. Do you keep location services on "high accuracy"? Perhaps it's an issue with your model, or your specific device, as well. My Note II and the HTC One m8 have done these things flawlessly for me.

    • WORPspeed

      The alarm is time based, not location

  • Rod

    I have an app for this, very useful.

    GNow is cool and all, but the battery unfriendliness frightens me.

    • Javier

      Whats the app? Thanks.

    • Johnathan Pertolick

      "GNow is cool and all, but the battery unfriendliness frightens me."

      I've run the Google Now Launcher (tight Now integration), including high accuracy location services and all of that jazz, on the Note II and Htc One M8 and seen no great loss of battery. I use Gsam to keep a close eye on the battery, and unless you're the kind of person who is going days and days between charges, these features just don't have an noticable effect for me, as a daily or every other day charger.

      • Rod

        Well, Note 2 ain't really a parameter for battery.

        M8's battery performance isn't bad either, Phone Arena has gotten good numbers out of it.

        Anyways, I'll give it a try again.

  • Serge Cebrian

    if i get fast asleep in mexico transportation system and i set an alarm, then i will probably still miss my stop because probably somebody will steal my cellphone while asleep :( yay Mexico

    • Christian Cebrian

      Just let me know your bus route and I will "take care" of your phone once you fall asleep xD

  • NoName

    "After a night out with your friends Morgan, Daniels, and Cuervo"

    What you did there, I saw it.

    • Serge Cebrian

      xD indeed

  • Rayun Mehrab

    This was already there (in limited functionality) on Google Maps before the big update. What's the point of removing this feature only to bring it back in a less intuitive place? Suffered a lot without this feature, but dunno if I should be happy that it's coming to Google Now.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      It was a bit different, and I imagine the alarm would *really* wake you up compared to a ding that Maps used to produce.

      • Paul_Werner

        It would still be nice to have it back in Maps though. Google Now likes to make cards go away too early (i.e. Parking Reminder)

        • ltredbeard

          Wow, the parking card sticks around for ages for me.

      • http://dennisbareis.com/ Dennis Bareis

        Is it really an "alarm" (I have to stop it) or another "notification" and you could also miss?

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          I'm hoping it's an alarm that I'll notice, but I'm not sure 100% since it hasn't popped up for me. If someone who used it could chime in that'd be great.

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

    I wish it existed in the past when I missed my stop while Caltraining home drunk from Mountain View and ending up in Oakland instead of SF. This happened more times than I'm willing to admit.

    • AndrewNeo

      That's.. pretty impressive, given the last stop on Caltrain is SF..

      • Roxie

        Yes, I was wondering how Caltrain got across the bay from SF to Oakland. Good story but untrue.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          It's very much true, I just forgot about the switch to Bart, it's been several years since I quit my day job to concentrate on AP. See the other reply.

          • Martin Rogers

            PICS OR IT DIDNT HAPPEN

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

        Whoops, sorry, I meant Bart. I start with Caltrain, then switch to Bart at Millbrae. In that case, make it both Bart and Caltrain where it could have come in handy.

  • primalxconvoy

    I have wanted something like this for ages. To be a great app/service, it should:

    - set the destination
    - set the embarkation
    - set/check current position (where possible)
    - check travel info (which train line you're on, twin timetable, etc)
    - GPS/location on/off.
    - etc

    Are there any dedicated travel apps that already do this?

  • Ed

    Ugh, I missed my transfer train late last night and there were no more trains running back.

    Cab ride cost me $80 :(

  • rap

    Great idea. I could have used this 25 years ago when I rode the bus to/from work. Always was afraid to sleep. Of course 25 years ago I wouldn't have had a phone that could do this.

  • mercado79

    I so wish this would have existed years ago. Chilling in Queens until late. Getting on the train, planning to get off at Penn Station, waking up at the last stop in Brooklyn. Not fun at 4am. This wasn't exactly a rare thing either!

  • AbbyZFresh

    How pathetic, and I use the MTA everyday. But that's Skynet for ya.

  • doom

    Love the writing on this article. Thanks AP.

  • hyperbolic

    This could've be handy during my army service...Google you are 9 years late.

  • Giovanni

    must you really capitalize each word in the title?

    • Joseph Cascio

      What do you have against capitals, you capitalist?

    • primalxconvoy

      Usually, except for particles and other "minor" words, most words are capitalised when used in a title.

  • shonangreg

    How are you going to fall asleep though with everyone else's phones ringing when they get to their stops? Unless this can silently notify you, then it will work only for early adopters. And those geeks will be hated by everyone else on the bus or train.

    Put this in a watch with a shock to the wrist, and voila! It would make sense.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Earbuds.

  • http://shanked.me/ Shank

    Unfortunately, if this is time based, it's not going to do me much good. My bus route is always late.

  • adamhs

    Sure could have used this in college...

  • dbmaster

    That would be great if it works. I will give it a try.

  • http://www.fangirlconfessions.com Robin Burks

    This would be especially useful if it worked in a way that allowed you to input your destination and then Maps figures out what stop you need to get off at and lets you know when it's coming up. I do a lot of bus riding in unfamiliar cities when I travel and that's always an issue - knowing when your stop is coming up so you know when to pull the cord that signals the driver to stop there. I usually just ask the driver, but I've had a few that forget me by the time they get to where I need to be.

  • http://www.jlgatewood.com/ J.L. “J7″ Gatewood StarrWulfe

    Google Now has had this for public transport in Japan for at least a year or so-- it came with the same update that gave us the "last train/bus back home from here" card. Glad to see them roll it out worldwide.

    • primalxconvoy

      If only I liked or used Google Now! Thanks for sharing, though.

  • dookerj

    Coming from iPhone/IOS7, I am shocked to see how incredibly crappy Android's (even Nexus 5's) notifications capabilities are. They are NONEXISTENT!!! You can send some into the ether in Google Now, but there is no way to just set a reminder as in IOS. And Even worse, no reminder/alert/event/etc can WAKE the device; much less show a popup or dropdown. The best you can get is a quick 0.5 second fast view of the reminder in the tiny upper status bar, then it's GONE; not even displayed in the history menu. I thought switching to Android would be cool... It feels like I went back to WINDOWS (3.1!!!!)

  • Martin Madsen

    Pretty cool feature. I actually made an app to do this a couple of years ago: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.stemadsen.travalarm

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