10 Features That Should Be in Google Now (and Some That We Wish Could Be)

By Chris Mills on at

Google Now's like a witchcraft-practising virtual butler, hiding in my pocket, putting his wizardry into action to make my life easier. It's awesome, and one of the main reasons to have an Android phone. It's not perfect though, and here's Gizmodo UK's Christmas wish list of powers that the sorcerers at Google HQ should bestow upon Now. Please Santa, I've been a good boy, promise.


1.) Offline Cards

This is the biggest failing of Google Now. As soon as he loses the sweet, sweet rays of mobile internet, your sorcerer-manservant goes on strike, and cards that were there a second ago have vanished. That sucks, especially when you just wanna check the weather while you're sitting down on the tube, or grab your tickets for your flight. This should be a fairly simple one to sort out -- when the phone's offline, just show the most recent cards.


2.) Better Commute Integration

My absolute favourite thing about Google Now is that I can check my commute when I wake up, and it tells me if there are any delays that mean I should leave for work earlier. You know what would be even more awesome? If this then tied into my morning alarm, so that I didn't have to wake up to check the tube status. More sleep. Mmm... sleep...


3.) Taxi Integration

Living in a big city, taxis are really quite useful, but for those of us on a budget it's a put-off not knowing how much you're going to end up shelling out 'till you actually get to your destination. Given that fares are fairly standardised though, a Google Now integration that tells you how much a taxi would be when you search for directions, and then offers to hail you a cab (a la Hailo) would be sweet.


4.) Wi-Fi hotspots

Given that there's a decent smattering of Wi-Fi hotspots around the country that you can use for free, and that Google seems to like gathering Wi-Fi data, this would be handy. Now could match your geographical location against a database of known Wi-Fi hotspots, and when you're near one, turn Wi-Fi on and go sniffing for some high-speed 2.4GHz goodness.


5.) Price comparison

In the same vein as programmes like RedLaser and Amazon's Price Check, this would compare prices of products against other nearby physical stores and the internet. Difference is, it could do this without you having to scan some pesky barcode, and just uses your search history instead. Need to be careful though; you don't want a bunch of notifications popping up every time you stroll past Ann Summers.


6.) Vouchers

I bet you've got about 200 money-off vouchers lingering in the depths of your spam folder right now. Even if you're the sort of person who combs through your junk mail or the back of your wallet looking for this sort of stuff (and I'm not judging if you are), it's difficult to remember all the vouchers and their relevant expiry dates. Now integration could seamlessly pull all these vouchers (as well as stuff like store cards, loyalty cards and membership cards) into one place, and then let you know of any relevant ones when you go into a store -- it'd be like Passbook on steroids. I know for me that this would save a whole pile of cash, and give me an alternative to trawling through an inbox stuffed with opportunities to look at "P O R_ N: M OV -I.E %S }‏". 


7.) Cinema Integration

This could work off your search history, location and calendar: when you search for a film, it offers you the next showing of the film that fits in with your schedule -- no more having to choose between your hair appointment and that 4:20 showing of Twilight.


8.) Restaurant Integration

There are two uses of this I reckon. The first would be a restaurant-finder, so that when it's approaching dinnertime in a strange town, Now could suggest restaurants that based on your search history (or GMail contents) you like. The other, simpler integration would be something that gave ratings-based suggestions for restaurants after you search for them. (Example, I search "Indian food in Liverpool", and a card offers me the top five Indians near me, travel time to them, and the option to actually reserve a table.)


9.) TV Tie-In

I often accidentally miss TV shows. Frankly, there's more in my life going on. Though I can find them on iPlayer most of the time, something that would be freakishly awesome would be a Now feature that reminds me when a TV show I like is on, and then gives me the option to record it/automatically records it if I'm away from home. Never again shall I miss my weekly dose of Made in Chelsea.


10.) Apology Messages

Google Now knows where you are. Google Calendar knows where I should be. Often, those two places are not the same. A handy feature would be automatic texts to your boss to let him know that you're going to be late for that budget meeting, and that it's because you're stuck in traffic. Just make sure that your phone doesn't accidentally rat you out when you're "stuck" in the pub watching footie.


11.) Google Wingman

People with privacy concerns, look away now. Google Wingman would secretly monitor your conversations with the ladies (or gents), and provide you with chat-up assistance. She likes Call Me Maybe? A quick glance at your phone screen will reveal a run-down of Carly Rae Jepsen's top hits, TV appearances, and memorable quotes. Prospective girl is a Glee fan? The lock-screen turns into a very brief synopsis of the show's seasons (as well as a massive, flashing sign saying "get out now"). As well as information, I reckon your phone could monitor the conversation, and let you know when the time's right to make a move or just move on, via the notification light. And let's be honest, if you're going out to try and chat people up and you can't find a wingman, you're gonna need all the help you can get.


12.) Google Wardrobe

This would require you to scan in your wardrobe beforehand, and then your phone could use data on what you'd worn previously, what's clean, what the weather's like, and if you have any important meetings on to tell you what to wear. It'd give you a new excuse for your poor dress sense as well -- forget "I got given this sweater", the new excuse could be "my phone told me to wear it and I'm too much of a mindless drone to disagree".