It has been an exciting couple of weeks of announcements, starting with Apple announcing iOS 6 and the Macbook Retina, Microsoft surprising us by announcing they are selling their own tablet, and Google announcing Android 4.1, aka Jelly Bean, and the Nexus 7 tablet. In my opinion the iOS 6 and Android 4.1 announcements are the most significant because they both provide a glimpse of where personal computing is heading.
Of the two announcements, I think that in terms of personal computing, the Android 4.1 announcement raises the bar the most. The most significant parts of the iOS6 announcement are that Apple is replacing Google Maps with their own mapping and navigation app, they are providing easier sharing with Facebook, and they are expanding how the phone uses iCloud. None of the new iOS 6 features are things we have never seen before, and some might say iOS is just catching up with Android.
I think Google Now is the most significant new feature of Android 4.1 because it adds another level of intelligence that puts the “personal” in personal computing. Google is utilizing information that it knows about you from your calendar, e-mail, and searches to present information to you before you even make a request for information. Watch the following video to see how Google Now works:
I watched the TWIT Live broadcast of the Google I/O keynote address where they announced Google Now and Leo Laporte’s reaction is that the feature is too creepy and not something that users want. While I understand why some people may be put-off by it, if Google Now proves to be beneficial to users such that it something they use, the creepy factor will be less of an issue.
Some will never understand nor be comfortable with the idea of freely sharing information about their personal lives on Facebook, while others see so much value in easily sharing information with their friends that they will not stop using Facebook no matter how often it messes up privacy options of new features.
Adoption of new features comes down to a cost/benefit analysis. The cost of using Google Now is providing more information about yourself to Google’s computers so that it can correlate that information with the current date, time, and your location to provide useful information to you. If users see enough benefit from doing so, they will have no problem with the cost of using Google Now. If enough see benefits with Google Now it and other similar apps and functions will become the accepted norm of personal computing, or what I’ve been calling real personal computing.