June 28th at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, Google held its annual industry-developer interface conference known as Google I/O . This year’s I/O was very special with many new announcements, releases and events by the software giant. These included the new $199, 7 inch tablet – the Nexus7, the first piece of hardware built entirely by Google – The NexusQ home entertainment system, offline maps and Chrome finally going gold on the Android, project Glass – a wearable computing device, Google Events and much more. But the star of the show had to be the unveiling of the latest version of their mobile OS, Android.
The latest version of Android, Version 4.1, codenamed JellyBean includes numerous new features like : Project Butter – a series of improvements and tweaks to the android framework which drastically increase the responsiveness of the system and gives the users a smooth and “buttery” experience, improved keyboard layout and support for 16 additional languages including Hindi and other Indic languages, improved voice input, expandable notifications and a brilliant new feature known as Google Now.
Voice typing and voice commands have been a part and parcel of Android since its initial releases. And it has been getting better and better with every new release. Google or any of the manufacturers using Android had never really stressed on that fact in any of their marketing communications. Not to mention the fact that you could not use natural language to issue your phone command. And when, Apple launched the latest version of their mobile operating system, iOS5 with the iPhone 4s, Siri was at the centre of it all. It took the world with a storm. There were many attempts to clone its functionality. Android developers were quick and within 8hrs released an application called Iris which tried to mimic the functionality of Siri. Samsung, in its latest flagship device, The Galaxy S3 sported a feature called the “S Voice” which brought Siri-like functionality to the device. Everyone was waiting for Google’s official answer to Siri. That wait is finally over, with Google Now.
With improved voice search, Android 4.1 JellyBean can finally answer your spoken questions. Armed with the power of the Google Knowledge Graph, you can now use natural voice communications to talk to your phone, ask it questions and get back your answers. And it’s not just limited to your phone any longer. Thanks to Google Knowledge Graph – a project aimed at helping AIs not just answer your questions, but also fundamentally understand them while they do so – the same functionality is now available to all users worldwide on Google’s search engine. Go ahead, point your browser to Google, click on the little microphone at the right of the search box and say “How tall is the Gateway of India” and you are presented with the right answer, which in this case is 26 meters. On the phone ofcourse, it can do a lot more, including setting up alarms, calling your mom, pointing you to the nearest pizza place and even letting you know every time Sachin scores a six.
But Google, as always, is thinking a few steps beyond that. The philosophy of Google, as a company has always been about “Making the right information available for you when you ask for it”. Voice search enables you to do that faster, more naturally. But… The problem with voice search is that, you still have to ask it questions and tell it to do things. Google Now, challenges that thought. It says “What if the user never even needed to ask for it”. It’s all about making the right and relevant information available to the user, when he needs it, without him ever needing to ask for it!
From the introduction video : “Instead of having to sift through and organize all the information you need throughout the day, all that information is ready at the exact moment you actually need it. Introducing: Google Now. Now with Android, one simple swipe gives you information that is relevant to you, Right Now. As you leave your house, Google Now is smart enough to check current traffic conditions and has prepared an alternate route for your commute. Google Now is always one step ahead, so you can feel more confident as you navigate the day. When you are at a subway station, Google Now can tell you what trains are next; find you interesting local places to eat. And when you are in a restaurant, your phone already has the best dishes listed for you. Google Now automatically keeps you updated on your favourite sports teams in real time. With the predictive power of Now, you get just what you need to know, right when you need it.”
From a marketing perspective, the implications of this are huge! You know what your customer wants, even before he asks for it. And in some cases, even before he realises it. With suggesting routes, restaurants, dishes, stores and other locations you become a huge influencing factor in their buying process. And the best part is; leaving upselling, cross-selling and all those matters aside; Google has already sold its product ( i.e. search data ) by the very fact of the customer just being there. The customer has not asked you for anything, but your product has already been delivered!!!
That is H U G E ! !
What company on the face of the earth wouldn’t want something like that ??
Originally appeared in MAGMA, the newsletter of the Marketing Club of the Sydenham Institute of Management Studies, Research and Entrepreneurship Education. ( http://goo.gl/45a49 ) .