In my Nexus 7 initial impressions piece, posted over the weekend, I was a bit critical of Google Now. I made a point of carrying the Nexus 7 with me every day to see if Google Now would “learn” from my movements. I did not have an active WiFi signal during the day at work, but the Nexus 7 does have GPS built in, so I assumed that it would keep track of my movements. Sadly, it didn’t do that. I made a point of connecting the Nexus 7 to my phone, via a 3G WiFi hotspot, when I traveled to Atlanta last Friday. While Google Now did recognize where I was, and offered a travel time map — that map was not connected with my destination within Atlanta. It merely provided the driving time from Hartsfield/Jackson to downtown Atlanta.
Today, I made a point of keeping the 3G WiFi hotspot active throughout the day. I unlocked the Nexus 7 this afternoon and Google Now displayed some cards that I hadn’t seen before.
As you can see, at the top of the Google Now screen is a card with an estimate of my commute time to home. What’s interesting about the traffic card is that it appears to know that I don’t take the Washington Beltway home in the evenings because of traffic. I do travel the Beltway in the mornings, so I will keep an eye on what the card displays tomorrow morning.
Next up is the weather card. This cards is normally at the first card in the stack.
Below the weather is where things got interesting. There is a card displaying transportation (bus) schedules for the bus stop near my office. Below the transportation card were several cards for businesses near my office, including Whole Foods, LA Fitness, and a couple of restaurants. The cards displayed operating hours, and gave me the option to get more information or check in.
One card that I swiped away before taking the screen captures was a place card for the movie theater I went to on Saturday. Interestingly, I searched for movie times with the Nexus 7, but did not take the tablet with me. While I am a little puzzled about why my flight searches didn’t produce a card, it’s pretty cool to see that Google Now is trying to interpret my searches and create, potentially, relevant cards.
I don’t know if keeping the WiFi connection open was the key for the addition of these new cards, but the appearance of these new cards is very encouraging. If improvement of cards displayed on Google Now is contingent on having an Internet connection, than I now more fully understand why Josh Topolsky on The Verge stated that he felt that Google Now was much more useful on the Galaxy Nexus than on the Nexus 7. The Galaxy Nexus has a constant connection, where as the Nexus 7 needs access to WiFi to update data on many, if not all, of the cards.) I plan to take the Metro (subway) and/or the bus to work a few days this week. I’d like to see if the transportation card starts to add departure times for the Metro station closest to my office.