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How Google Now was built (and a bit on Siri too)

0. phoneArena 10 Jul 2012, 12:47 posted on

You'll probably notice pretty quickly, but Google Now is a product/platform that really excites us. We can't say for sure that it will live up to the potential, but if it can, it could be something pretty special. Of course, Google didn't build this product alone, there was a long, strange journey to get here...

This is a discussion for a news. To read the whole news, click here

posted on 10 Jul 2012, 12:55 26

1. hateftotti (Posts: 198; Member since: 03 May 2011)

Google Now>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>siri
Just wait to see how apple want to mislead its fans again.

posted on 10 Jul 2012, 13:03 22

2. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2703; Member since: 26 May 2011)

That's like saying TV is much better than radio. They are two different things that have different purposes, but have a small set of overlapping features. The comparison is silly.

posted on 10 Jul 2012, 13:39 1

6. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5993; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)

I wonder if the evolutionary path doesn't reflect some of the philosophy of the O/S environments in which the products function? Siri is running in an environment that if there is going to be deep integration, requires the development work to be done by the iOS team. Conversely, given the more open environment of Android, more things can be done by 'outsiders'.

posted on 10 Jul 2012, 13:46

8. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2703; Member since: 26 May 2011)

That's probably part of it. Google has more leeway to fold in external products as needed, and has APIs available for the rest. Surprisingly, there's no real Google Now API, although the other APIs like Directions, Places, and Calendar all feed into Google Now.

posted on 10 Jul 2012, 13:48 3

9. Aeires (unregistered)

Both are personal assistants, to remind you of events and pull information you require. How is that different? The only big difference I see is one is far more intuitive than the other, but at the end of the day, they're both personal assistants.

posted on 10 Jul 2012, 13:59 3

11. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2703; Member since: 26 May 2011)

There is huge variation in the space of "personal assistant". A to-do notebook can be considered a "personal assistant", so can an actual human helper. The term "personal assistant" is so general as to be useless. To go back to my original analogy, that's like saying TV, radio, MP3 players, etc are the same because they're all "media devices". A bike and a jet are both "transportation devices", but that doesn't make it a good idea to compare them.

posted on 10 Jul 2012, 14:37 4

17. Aeires (unregistered)

Except both are apps on a cell phone. Comparing a TV to a radio is silly, but comparing one app on a cell phone to another app on a cell phone that essentially does the same thing isn't silly.

posted on 10 Jul 2012, 15:06 4

18. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2703; Member since: 26 May 2011)

GTAIII and Angry Birds are both cell phone apps that "essentially do the same thing" (entertain). Shall we compare them? How about Hookt and Skype (communication)? How good will those comparisons be?

It all depends on how specific your comparison criteria are. If you want to compare "personal assistants", you won't get very good comparison points because of the huge variation in methods and features across the thousands of apps that fall in that category.

For example, you could compare WriteRoom and Office, because they are both "productivity tools" with an overlap on word processing, but the comparison is going to be pretty useless.

posted on 10 Jul 2012, 17:06 6

28. Aeires (unregistered)

How about just the two that the article is about.

I'll be blunt with this so there's no misunderstanding the point. I don't think Apple put near as much work into Siri as you make out. Apple purchased a finished product and tweaked it to fit their needs, hardly deserving the credit of making Siri. As for Google, a Frankenstein approach isn't that too far off to imagine. Google is well known for trying crazy things and sometimes they nail it, like with Google Now. If you look at everything that went into Now, it's remarkable, and that shouldn't be downplayed because they purchased some portions and hired the talent needed to pull it off. All the resources still had to be put together, which was no small feet.

But at the end of the day, they're both personal assistants. The graphics in this article says "Hello, I'm Siri, your new personal assistant."

posted on 10 Jul 2012, 13:55 4

10. itiswhatitis (Posts: 423; Member since: 23 Jan 2012)

If comparison is silly then i guess 99% of the World's population is silly!

posted on 10 Jul 2012, 13:59 16

12. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2703; Member since: 26 May 2011)

This is why my job is difficult...

posted on 10 Jul 2012, 14:04

13. itiswhatitis (Posts: 423; Member since: 23 Jan 2012)

I guess its like you said from one of you articles you must be throwing 'millions of pebbles' whatever it is good luck with that,its worth the try....

posted on 10 Jul 2012, 15:29 16

22. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

ok.. how about this for a quick metaphore..

if you think of Google's dozens of services as "cities" unto themselves, they are much like the US on a map.. cities here and there and everywhere. What Google Now does is basically build information highways between all these "cities" so they can now work together. Google Now takes all the information from all these cities (Maps, Search, ect ect ect) and uses it to figure out what you want... and eventually it might know what you want before you do. It watches you while it watches the cities and learns over time. Its pretty much free to grab any information from nearly anywhere from the way its designed.

Apple is the opposite. They have one massive city where everything is done. Siri was build IN to the city to work inside it. It does not go outside the city walls as designed. As Apple's city grows, Siri will grow with it. Siri takes all the information within Apple's city and keeps it ready for you when you need it. It however will never go beyond the scope of Apple's city.

Some of the base features of both may be the same, but they operate completely different and they are built to do different things from each other.

We have joked that Siri was the beginnings of Skynet. In all honesty, Google Now is way closer to Skynet that Siri will be.. maybe ever. Its always watching and learning what you do. Compared to that, Siri is a rockem-sockem robot.

posted on 10 Jul 2012, 15:40 8

23. good2great (Posts: 1042; Member since: 22 Feb 2012)

beautiful explanation remixfa!!!

this lets me know that you are a very unbiased person and at least understand how both OS's work...

this definitely doesn't take away from Michael H. article you pretty much explained it to educate the trolls in here...lol

good article Michael H.

there are a few readers in here that actually enjoy the content of this site than coming here to crack jokes and bash/harass each other about which OS is better...

posted on 10 Jul 2012, 23:06 2

36. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

Thanks :)

Yea, I never meant to take away from michael. only help reduce his headache from trying to make people understand. If it helps someone, then it was worth typing it up.
I dont know that true trolls can be educated though. Isnt that against the trolling Alma mater? lol

posted on 13 Jul 2012, 05:11

42. thinking (Posts: 130; Member since: 19 Jan 2012)

This is not about which OS is better. Siri/Now are not OSs. They are personal assistants that try to answer your questions. So, I very firmly feel that they intend to do the same thing. They may be doing it differently. They're still trying to do the same thing. So, the comparison is bound to be there.

posted on 10 Jul 2012, 15:13 8

20. MartyK (Posts: 819; Member since: 11 Apr 2012)

I disagree with ALL; the difference is this:

Ifan feels everything Apple market dept says/ puts out is pure-first -time-ever-magic (from Touch screen to Siri).

Whereas, the rest of the world KNOWS that every thing is ( in Mike words) peice together, heck the whole COMPUTER language is peice together so there is really nothing new.

Except when it comes to Ifan and Apple, then it's brand new, SOMEBODY have to call them out on it.

posted on 10 Jul 2012, 13:07 10

3. tedkord (Posts: 11712; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)

But...I thought Google didn't even think of an intelligent talking assistant until Siri, then they just copied.

posted on 10 Jul 2012, 13:40 5

7. smartphonemad (Posts: 42; Member since: 10 Jul 2012)

That's what Apple fans want people to believe :L I mean, with all the people that create ideas for google do you not think someone would have thought of it?

posted on 10 Jul 2012, 14:25 3

14. protozeloz (Posts: 5396; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)

are sarcasms so hard to get these days?

posted on 10 Jul 2012, 14:31 7

16. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2703; Member since: 26 May 2011)

This is why we need to standardize punctuation for sarcasm on the web. So many people miss it in the written word. Easiest is just bracketing punctuation to convey sarcasm, since it wouldn't need new keystrokes to be learned.

Fanboys are so rational[!]

posted on 10 Jul 2012, 15:08 2

19. protozeloz (Posts: 5396; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)

sarcasm standard would be kinda hard since there are a few keys used for sarcasm but my favorite is "/s"


phonearena is full of rational fanboys /s

posted on 12 Jul 2012, 09:25

41. ardent1 (Posts: 2000; Member since: 16 Apr 2011)

>ie Fanboys are so rational[!]

That would be British sarcasm and would be lost on most Americans.

"In BrE, I think we generally describe remarks as ‘sarcastic’ when we’re saying the opposite of what we mean e.g. ‘Wow, that’s a surprise’ when something was very predictable, or ‘Nice weather, eh?’ when it’s pouring with rain, or ‘Punctual, as always.’ when someone who always comes late finally arrives. So sarcasm can be either nice (a funny joke) or nasty (an unkind remark) but some element of ‘saying the opposite of what you mean’ needs to be involved for something to be labeled sarcastic." (source:http://www.vickihollett.com/?p=2627)

posted on 10 Jul 2012, 18:23 1

29. jroc74 (Posts: 6006; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)

tedkord shoulda added 2 more "but"s...lol.

posted on 12 Jul 2012, 09:17

40. ardent1 (Posts: 2000; Member since: 16 Apr 2011)

Unfortunately American don't employ sarcasm as well as the British. What people think is sarcasm really isn't sarcasm.

posted on 15 Jul 2012, 06:30

46. smartphonemad (Posts: 42; Member since: 10 Jul 2012)

It is when you cant hear a persons tone

posted on 10 Jul 2012, 14:27

15. Sniggly (Posts: 7305; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)

my apologies, man. I meant to thumb this comment up. It was a good snarky little comment. :)

posted on 10 Jul 2012, 16:57

27. tedkord (Posts: 11712; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)

Yeah, it was snarkier than I intended. I've been working 13 days straight, 12 hours per day, 1 day off and start over, for several weeks now. I am exhausted, and maybe a little cranky.

posted on 10 Jul 2012, 15:17 5

21. appleDOESNT.com (banned) (Posts: 456; Member since: 19 Nov 2011)

Siri isn't even the first virtual assistant. your point is pointless. Anyways, Apple bought Siri in 2010 as a response to Google voice dictation and voice actions that debuted in 2009, no apple voice competitor until late 2011, years later.. it took Apple two years to launch Siri... Google Now is an extension on every thing search and they didn't just whip that pure awesomness in 6 months... If they did? that is a company I like to back!!!

Apple let Google run voice wild for years without a competing product and even longer without Navigation. I like my companies to react and innovate quickly not take years to offer MMS and copy n paste!

posted on 10 Jul 2012, 18:29 1

30. jroc74 (Posts: 6006; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)

lol! +1 to ya...

I REALLY, REALLY like this article. Apple and Google took different paths for each product. Whoever says Google is copying Apple/Siri....needs to just play in traffic....sorry. Ok...I only 1/2 mean it...kinda.

Articles like this ....Apple, iPhone fanboys need to really pay attention to. Apple isnt the only company that innovates. How hard is that to understand?

posted on 10 Jul 2012, 13:17 9

4. sid07desai (Posts: 290; Member since: 03 May 2012)

Google is more credible for Android than Apple for Siri. When Google bought Android, it was just in the beginning stages. And then they came up with improvements like Ice Cream Sandwich on their own. And then they created Google Now. Their own creation. Apple did little to make certain changes to Siri but overall it cannot be credited to Apple. As far as efforts are concerned, I think Google has done a better job. But as Michael mentioned in the above comment, the comparison is silly. We users can only wait and see how these evolve on their own.

posted on 10 Jul 2012, 18:34 1

31. jroc74 (Posts: 6006; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)

Agree 100%.

At its core...Siri was already developed before Apple bought it. Google Now wasnt.

Thats one of the big things about Apple that Apple, iPhone fanboys dont wanna admit. If Apple is innovative for buying companies, technology, apps and adding their twist to it....how can anyone say Google isnt?

It boggles the mind.

posted on 10 Jul 2012, 13:21 9

5. maxican16 (Posts: 364; Member since: 29 Sep 2011)

The important thing is what works best for each user. For me there is no question, it's Google Now. I don't want to have a conversation with my phone, nor do I want to ask the same question time and time again (just have it ready for me already!), or be given incorrect answers (which happens a third of the time on siri). Google Now is already incredibly functional and it will only improve. And when voice search doesn't have an answer, it gives me a list of Google results that only improve the more I use my phone. Take note Apple... THIS is true innovation.

posted on 10 Jul 2012, 15:44 4

24. good2great (Posts: 1042; Member since: 22 Feb 2012)

what would be funny is if Google released an iOS version of Google Now...lol

you guys would be pissed huh? lol

looking at how its broken down its not impossible to happen... lol

posted on 10 Jul 2012, 16:10 5

25. Sackboy117 (Posts: 178; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)

it would probably become #1 on the App Store and would most likely reach out to previous iPhone models.

posted on 10 Jul 2012, 21:41 1

33. SBrown (Posts: 9; Member since: 02 Jul 2010)

I usually don't participate on these comment threads, but I must admit, that was an excellent civil comeback. +1

posted on 10 Jul 2012, 16:18

26. protozeloz (Posts: 5396; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)

is quite posible at least from goggles side of things

posted on 10 Jul 2012, 21:49

34. MartyK (Posts: 819; Member since: 11 Apr 2012)

It wouldn't surprise anyone if Google did place this on IOS or Window phones, in fact most Android Users wouldn't be upset at all.

Until, IOS Market dept and some crazy Ifan, start screaming out, "Google copy" and then Apple trieds to patent Google now.

posted on 10 Jul 2012, 23:10 1

37. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

there are not enough hooks in the "google" apps on iOS to make it work the same. With Android, it comes with all the apps built in to the system. On iOS, not only would it take major app upgrades (like Maps for example.. huge difference between goog maps on android and iOS), it would also require that all those different Google apps be downloaded or preinstalled in iOS with additional hooks built into the OS itself (like Apple would allow that).

And you think the jokes about iOS becoming more "android" with each update is bad now? Just imagine what kind of jokes would be slinging if iOS had a mandatory "google apps" suite on it. lol. those jokes would never end. :)

posted on 10 Jul 2012, 19:17

32. satydesh (Posts: 71; Member since: 22 Nov 2011)

android fans are really aggressive thats Power given by Open source to demand more!!!

posted on 11 Jul 2012, 00:20

38. dreign91 (Posts: 15; Member since: 17 May 2012)

Michael H I must say I feel a tad bit smarter every time I read your articles. I'm very excited for Google Now as well. Yes in the beginning there will be a learning curve, but with all the sources of info your phone can pull from (Gmail, currents, play store, search, places, etc) this has the potential to be legend....(wait for it).... dary! What will be truly awesome is when Google now is put together with the Google Glass project

posted on 14 Jul 2012, 21:33

45. alekhos (Posts: 2; Member since: 17 May 2012)

Yeah...that would definitively shape a sheepish world, given the nature of Google Now, as explained by Michael. Think, already, with the proper training (this is kind of a A. I. software), Google Now can predict what info you need, but, as it was pointed out here, it would soon be telling you what to do and you would be like "Oh, ok I´ve forgotten that, thanks". Think that comes from your phone, which may be in your pocket, but maybe at some place not instantly reachable or even left over around (you may want to shower or have s** or something) and you might not get the notification instantly. Now think you´re wearing your glasses. How could you avoid being told most of the time what you should do or were you should be and how to get there fast? Of course you could choose NOT to pay attention...but the question is...when the time comes...will we "look to another side"?...wait, you can´t even do that! The thing is right before your eyes! And probably more sooner than later it will be sounding in your ears also...natural voice and all (perhaps a voice of your choice). Now get the whole picture...

posted on 14 Jul 2012, 07:03

43. ispeakevo (Posts: 2; Member since: 08 Jun 2012)

What's also interesting is how the author refers to Google road as being "messy" while saying Apple's is "cleaner"... Its this type of media baiting that helps perpetuate the Idea the idea and belief, apple is better, ahead, smoother, and more inventive.

It doesn't matter what the voice sounded like, but, in the 80's IBM computers was talking back to us. And regardless of the amount of mistakes, in the late 90's my Motorola phone was recognizing my voice. And before an actual device labeled as an Iphone came to market, Google understood what I was saying.

I'm just so tired of the blatant crap of bias misleading information that continues to flow from this venue of tech news.

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