Happy New Year! It's that time again; with the new year comes our new annual prediction post. I tackled this last year, and rather than do a bunch of crazy, pulled-from-thin-air predictions, I ended up with a link-filled research-fest for the year. It worked out pretty well, so that's what's on the docket for today. First though, I'll take a look and see just how many of last year's predictions and rumors came true, and provide some updates for the more important topics.
I hope you like Google Now, because it looks like this product is here to stay for a long time. As we speak, Chrome developers are working on bringing Popular Science's Innovation of the Year to the desktop, instead of keeping it trapped just on your phone or tablet. As it turns out, a "skeleton" framework is already in place for the search product to move in.
Google's not being shy about the existence of this product, but also isn't in a hurry to announce it, either:
Ok - here's the deal. A Google Search update happened, which means it's teardown time. Normally I post about unreleased, work-in-progress stuff, but Google Now is so context dependent, that it's pretty much impossible for me to tell if something is implemented or not. The one thing I've learned from my months of using Now is that Google Now is in charge, and you're just along for the ride. So, for today's post, we're just going to shoot for "new things that didn't make it onto the 'What's New' list." If you can get them to show up, awesome.
Google Search received a pretty significant update this morning, adding yet more Google Now cards, speed enhancements, and three new voice actions. The now cards include nearby events, "suggestions to help you with your research" (whatever that means), QR code boarding passes (!) from Gmail, location-sensitive search by camera (aka Google Goggles), weather at places Now thinks you're travelling to based on Calendar and Gmail, and monthly summaries of your walking and biking activity.
Normally I rip apart APKs looking for news-worthy items and unreleased features, but I've covered everything that's currently out, so this teardown session is going to be a little different. During my usual digging for features, I've stumbled across a surprising amount of unused files, movie references, and canceled beta assets. I've always thought it was a shame that no one knows about them, so today we'll be exploring all the crazy leftover files that ship on our phones and tablets.
After having successfully survived a thunder-snowicane and completed a black-ops mission into a post-apocalyptic New York City to pick up a Nexus 4, APK Teardown HQ is back up and running. We've accumulated a bit of a backlog, so today's entry is a 2 for 1 deal: Google Maps 6.14 and Google Search 2.1.
Maps is getting real-time traffic rerouting!
Now, you might be saying "But Maps already takes traffic into account, look at this blog post!" but let's take a look at what that blog post really says:
For years Nuance's Dragon served as a leader in the world of voice dictation and commands. More recently, though, as Google and Apple move in on the speech control world, the company has a more pressing need than ever to distinguish itself. Enter Dragon Mobile Assistant. This app aims to "expands the natural language understanding and artificial intelligence" of Dragon Go! and "[add] the most popular personal assistant features."
At this point, most of our readers are probably aware of how voice assistants work.
Many users - myself, Artem, and several other AP team members included - got an error just a bit ago stating that "There is a problem communicating with Google servers," but this issue seems to only be affecting Jelly Bean devices. Makes perfect sense, too - looks like Google Now is the only thing currently down, as Talk, Drive, GMail, Calendar, Movies, Music, Magazines, Books, Maps, the Play Store, and pretty much all other Google Services are currently fully functional.
I make no bones of the fact that I find 3rd party voice assistants to be increasingly redundant, especially with the arrival of Google Now on Jelly Bean.
But Google Now doesn't do certain things. One of those things has annoyed me since the early days of Google's Voice Actions: you can't make calendar events through voice input. And as a person that absolute despises digital calendars, this is something of a "must have" feature.