Living In New York City With Google Now: The Features I Love And The Features I Wish It Had

For the first few months I was living in the city, I had an old phone that no longer held a charge or had room for many apps. In late February I was finally able to purchase a Nexus 4 and have spent the last 5 months in a relationship with Google Now that is getting more serious and committed each week. The more we get to know each other, the greater the results.

Features I Love

The Traffic card is hands down the most used and useful one for me. I work freelance and am still new here, but with just a quick glance I can see how long it will take me to get home. Also, more importantly, it gives me the directions of how to get home (my internal compass is nonexistent). I rely on this card and use it every single day.

Once I updated the settings and started using my phone, Google Now became more personalized and useful. Most of the time I’m too poor to go to movies, but I still appreciate it when I’m told that I’m near a theater and there is a movie I’d like to see starting soon (based on an actor I looked up on YouTube or the Internet). I’ve also been recommended concerts, plays, and activities based on my YouTube viewings or my +1′s on Google+. There are literally thousands of things going on in this city every day. Having my phone find the ones I’d actually be interested in is incredible. Sometimes things are just a few blocks away, but I didn’t realize it.

Going along with the activities, is the card telling me about photo spots nearby. I can look at that card and realize there is a statue in the courtyard across the street that I should go see. I know that I would be missing things if Google Now wasn’t telling me about them. I’m also recommended restaurants every time I head to work in a new part of town. Unfortunately my budget isn’t quite ready to make proper use of that card, but oh I am looking forward to the day I can give you an in depth review on it.

The connection with Chrome is also incredibly handy. Like most people, when I’m headed to a new place I look it up on Google Maps on my computer before I leave. Then, when I get off the train I can open Google Now on my phone and it will say “8 minutes left to Staples” or wherever I was going, and directions on how to get there. Sometimes I look up a place but don’t actually go there. Don’t worry, the card is still there telling me how close I am. I started looking at apartments a few nights ago, and the next morning the Real Estate card was open. If I start researching something specific, there will always be a card with articles or information on the subject I was so interested in at 2 am.

So what more can a girl ask for?

Features Wish List

Product Finder – I went to Bed, Bath, and Beyond a while ago. While there, I got a card that said something like “while you are here you can scan any item to read reviews on the product.” That’s fantastic. Well, I also use Google Keep. I use it for notes and ideas, and lists. My shopping list. Wouldn’t it be amazing if Google Keep synced with Google Now and I got a notification while walking down the street, “Your shopping list says you need a 3.5 Watt LED R4 light bulb, and the specialized lighting store 8 minutes away has it in stock for $7.99.” There are SO MANY stores in the city. And I don’t know where any of them are or what any of them specialize in. This would be amazing.

The Deal Card – This is New York City! There are specials, and deals, and happy hours all of the time. Come on Google, tell me about them! I would definitely be more likely to go to the restaurants that are being recommended if it also included the lunch special of the day (8.99 for all you can eat hot wings!).

Restrooms – While I think this would be more useful for tourists than locals, a public restroom card would be amazing.

Friends – Finally, I’ve just recently gotten in to using FourSquare, which is a really fun app. I love it when I’m told there are friends at a nearby restaurant. A Google Now card like this would be cool. A card saying, “You have 5 friends within 15 minutes” so I can give them a call to meet up instead of getting all the way uptown only to realize they were so close.

So, for those of you who haven’t experienced the joy of your phone personalizing your city to you, I highly recommend it. For those of you that have things you love or a wish list of your own, please leave them in the comments below. I want to hear your ideas.

Google Now is available on Google Play or the App Store.

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