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Google Now Hands-On in Malaysia

July 4, 2012
by Lim Pei Hao

04 July 2012 – Google Now is the latest key feature from Android 4.1 or Jelly Bean. Instead of initiating voice queries in Apple’s Siri or Samsung’s S-Voice, Google Now fetches relevant information in the form of “cards” to the user, even without the user asking for it.

The virtual cards provided by Google Now vary differently according to time and the location you are now. We have installed the preview build of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean in the Galaxy Nexus, and decide give it a full swing in the Malaysian environment.

By running the app for the first time, you will probably only see the weather card that tells you the local weather. But, if you do turn on locational history in Google Latitude previously, Google Now is able to tell you the fastest route to home or work, depending on your current location, and what is approximate time on reaching your destination, with the current traffic situation taken into account. You are free to update your home and work location from the dashboard of Google Latitude in your desktop’s browser.

For instance, when we are waiting for the LRT in Universiti station, Google Now cleverly dispatched the relevant train schedule for us, so we can anticipate when is the next train will be arriving. All this can be achieved by simple firing up the Google Now. This is pretty handy if you plan to do some side visits before hopping into the train.

In addition, Google Now also introduces nearest place of interest based on your current location. When we arrived in the Masjid Jamek LRT Station, Google Now sent us the map of Masjid Jamek via Google Maps. Yet, all this happens automatically, and we are impressed that the app is actively providing information in real-time to assist you on your next destination.

After couple of days on using Google Now, it seems to know our favorite spots in the Kuala Lumpur City and alert us with traffic cards, which shows the shortest route and estimated time to get there. It quietly hints us about changes in the weather in the notification drawer, without annoying us much. If you have any appointment on that day, it would display as first card on top as a gentle reminder.

At the time of writing, Google Now is limited to RapidKL bus and train schedules. Even that, we do not get the bus schedules or the available buses when we are on a bus stop. We do hope more public transportation information is incorporated into Google’s database in the future.

Nevertheless, Google Now clearly sets apart from its competitors, which it provides real time information on where you are now and where you are heading next. Of course, the best thing about Google Now is – you are not required to ask anything.

If you have Jelly Bean with you, go to Voice Search> Settings (three dots icon)> activate Google Now. Then you can simply swipe up from the lock screen or long press the home button and then swipe up to initiate Google Now.

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