Fred Wilson wrote about Google Now yesterday. If you are not familiar Google Now has an interesting promise: that it knows stuff about you and can help you even without asking. To me, Google Now is the closest thing we have to fulfilling a need for what is very close to an ignored user group in the mobile market place, information users.
Michael Mace wrote in an incredible article a number of years ago on the various use cases for mobile computing. He simplified it down to three core user groups: communications, entertainment, and information. I believe very strongly that the first two are being covered well but the third is basically ignored (from the OS/hardware companies).
Google Now is interesting to me because it starts to get at a core need of information users. I have an appointment each month and invariably I forget the meeting once every couple of months. So I start setting an alarm, which sets off 10 devices around my house and means another thing I have to set. But Google Now has the potential to be smart enough to know where I am, the direction I am heading, what’s on my calendar, and which devices I have with me. If it knows all that, it can be smart enough to tell me if I’m not headed to my appointment, reminding me it’s time to go but also smart enough to not tell me if it sees I am on my way.
Once my devices are smart enough to look at my calendar, contacts and current position — with all kinds of other information — it can be smart enough to help me in all kinds of ways. I’m driving and traffic is backed up beyond my vision, it can tell me to take an alternative route. It knows where my meeting is and which parking meters are open near by, directing me to the one closest to my meeting. It knows where I am headed is for work and track the mileage for my expense report automatically.
As an information user myself feeling a bit underserved by current apps and OS implementations, I can’t wait for this future.