Google Now gets conversational, asks for extra info with certain tasks

November 14, 2013
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With the update to Google Search and Google Now, one thing went under the radar. We know about the new cards, which is great, but Google Now also got a little more conversational. As a few people have noticed, Google now asks for additional information when needed.


We first saw this kind of thing at Google I/O, in a demonstration of Google Voice search. In that demonstration, Google could understand context that went unsaid. If you were to ask where the Emprire State building was, then ask “how far is Yankee Stadium from there?”, Google would understand where there was, leaving you in contextual heaven.

With the Google Now update, voice activation not only gets a contextual understanding of where you are or what you mean, it also asks for additional info like where you want a message sent. Ron Amadeo at Ars Technica cleverly pointed out that when asking to send a text message, Google Now asked who he wanted to send it to, and then asked what he wanted the message to say. It then offered to let him see his message, and send it along; no buttons pushed.

Kevin Toffel of GigaOM has tested the functionality on a Nexus 10 to make sure it wasn’t an Android 4.4 thing, as Ron tested it on a Nexus 5. While not widely available yet, Kevin notes it worked just fine on a legacy Nexus device. His Nexus 10 was running Android 4.3, so we’re at least confident that Nexus owners will see the functionality soon.


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  • itpromike

    Finally… this has annoyed me for quite some time. I want full Siri functionality and it looks like it’s finally happening bit by bit. My favorite example of this is when asking Siri “Send an Email” the response is “Who would you like to send the email to?” I then say a name and it then asks me “What would you like the subject to say?”. Once I say the subject, it then asks me “Ok, what would you like the body to say?”. Once I finish with that it repeats the message back to me then asks “Ready to send?” I can either say Yes, or I can edit the message. This functionality was priceless to me before I got my Nexus 5, especially with my workflow; I’m on the road a lot so I do all this while driving and my phone connected to Bluetooth. When making my decision about the Nexus 5 I was asking about Google Now and everyone always responded (fanboys mind you so anything Android is perfect I”m sure) that Google Now did everything that Siri did but better and more options… Obviously this is NOT the case and I found Google now to be great… for what it was… Siri and Google now different in what they set out to accomplish… They are addressing different needs and unfortunately the needs that Siri answer are more important to the way I work. Anyhow it’s nice to finally get some of that functionality I’ve been missing.