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J. Harry Caufield

It's been interesting to see the new features getting added to Google Now since I traded in Apple for Android more than a year ago. Some of the features, like traffic and weather updates, are genuinely useful. Others are less useful to me but are innocuous: my phone tracks any stock ticker I search for, even when I search for an acronym which is coincidentally listed on the NASDAQ. A few issues irritate me enough for a complaint-heavy blog entry:

  1. Flight updates. I'm still getting updates about flights I took weeks ago. On other occasions, notifications have contained incorrect flight times or have referred to the previous day's flight. These updates are misleading and distracting.
  2. Automatic directions. Ostensibly, this feature exists to grab directions to places where you want to go. In practice, it provides me with directions to every restaurant and attraction I've googled in the past day. Even worse, if I drive out of the state, Google Now starts suggesting trips to every now-local place I've visited in the last year. Some of those directions may be useful but they're difficult to extract from the list of false positives and routes I already know well. To make matters worse, Now tries to assign names to locations but usually can't guess if they're gas stations or office complexes (usually, they are neither). A street address would be just fine!
  3. Limited customization. The Google "cards" aesthetic is one that trades in minimalism. It works best when images are bold and lists are short. This is hard to accomplish when Now becomes a list of New Content Available. The problem could be easily solved with a single setting to control how many different items a card can hold, but the whole system is Apple-like in its planned simplicity. 
That being said, I like the overall Now concept, even if it's still reminding me about events in Amsterdam I couldn't see without a rather expensive plane ticket.