Google Now

AVC regulars know that I am a long time Android user and a big fan of the Google mobile OS. A few months ago we turned on Google Now for our USV Google Apps account and I started getting Google Now on my phone.

At first, I didn't pay much attention to it. It's not in your face, which I like.

But last week, I got my first mobile notification from Google Now. I was at an event in SLC at The Leonardo. I had a dinner meeting in my calendar at 6:15. At roughly 6pm, Google Now sent me a mobile notification that I needed to leave because the place I needed to be at 6:15pm was a 9 minute drive. I was impressed. That's value add.

Then I started using Google Now a bit more. I've used it like Siri and it works really well. I've always thought Google's voice recognition on Android was excellent. I've mostly used it to compose text messages when I am out and can't focus on the phone to type. It works really well.

But Google's voice recognition, combined with Google Now, Google Maps, and Google Search is really impressive. I don't use Siri but my kids have all given it a try and mostly dropped it. I suspect Google Now might be better than Siri.

If you have an Android phone/OS that supports Google Now. I suggest you make sure it is turned on for your phone and that you give it a try. I think you will come away impressed. I sure was.


Comments (Archived):

  1. aminTorres

    What a google fanboy! 😉

    1. jason wright

      evil takes many forms.

  2. jason wright

    are you still using the samsung galaxy note 2?

    1. fredwilson

      no. i am on a nexus 4 right now. it’s awesome except that it doesn’t have LTE on it

      1. Duane Lawrence

        Do you find yourself missing LTE in NYC, or more when you travel? I ask b/c I’m getting 19mbps up/3 down in ny on my Nexus 4.

        1. fredwilson

          i don’t miss it that much. but i wish it were on the nexus 4

          1. Fernando Gutierrez

            And what about the non-removable battery? for me it is a deal breaker and I think you’ve said a couple of times before that you used to carry an extra battery with you.

          2. fredwilson

            i do. and the battery life sucks. i have been using a mophie. it is a problem with the nexus 4

          3. Fernando Gutierrez

            Ouch, clearly suboptimal. More and more phones are going the Apple way for this.

  3. Matt A. Myers

    First I buy the phone you recommended, and now I’m going to have to turn on Google Now. Thanks for the good direction / curation. 🙂

  4. aminTorres

    btw, odd disqus bug…says 4 comments but when I click thru it tells me that no-one has commented.using chrome on mac btw.

    1. ShanaC


  5. William Mougayar

    So, Notifications is a next big thing. Notifications with built-in intelligence inside is even better.What are your views on the future of mobile notifications? Are we at the baby steps part?

    1. Richard

      I think notifications are step 1, opt out actions are next. Hailo is contacted and cab is sent. Fred either accepts or rejects.

    2. awaldstein

      Notifications are cool.Now anyone with almost no programming can add text based notifications to anything online to the users/followers phone.Cool…not a game changer IMO but a must have for almost every service.

      1. William Mougayar

        Predictive notifications could be interesting. Ones that connect some dots for you.

        1. awaldstein

          Yup…I think you are right. But I think these will be a feature not a product and an expected part of every service that drives events, sales, verticalized info of any sort.

          1. Richard

            Yep, but less is more. And the payoff for the user must be nontrivial.

        2. Guest

          Yes; messages that you can interact with. “William your flight tonight is cancelled. Want to take an earlier one?” “Wiliiam – can you confirm these card transactions are OK” Google now for everyday things. This type of consumer interaction will be big.

        3. Timothy Meade

          The world is event-driven APIs, far more important than the Twitter firehose, and whoever controls the nozzle controls the whole thing.

      2. Barry Nolan

        True, and push notifications are pretty important to long-term mobile retention. With push, you have permission to interrupt your users. Making the message matter is really important. Spammy today, gone tomorrow

    3. Barry Nolan

      Contextual notifications you can interact with will be big. “William, your flight to Toronto tonight is late. Do you want to book an earlier one?.” “Are these card transactions yours?”A Google Now of everyday things. The push notification part is easy, the context not so…especially for the enterprise.

      1. JamesHRH

        Context is the downfall of all AI worldbeater ideas.



      1. Michael Brill

        Unfortunately, we’ve moved beyond interruption and live in a world of stream filtering. I’m nostalgic for mere interruption!

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          1. Michael Brill

            I pay attention to the part that I just happen to randomly see. Curation helps, but I probably miss 95% of what I’m genuinely interested in and 95% of what I do see is not interesting. For an interrupt model to work, it’ll have to start in a zero-base environment. Google Now would be a good example of that. Twitter, FB, email, etc. are all bad examples.

          2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          3. Michael Brill

            It’s hard to do when you rely on 100% on machines… and, present company excluded, machines are horrible at determining current user intent and context which are required to make consistently good smart interruptions. But there are other ways….

          4. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          5. Michael Brill

            Ultimately users will have to provide explicit intent… and I believe they will if it’s clear how they get value. The trick is to minimize perceived effort to get what’s in their head into the cloud in a structured way. Imagine the power of communicating explicit intent to the universe if the universe has tools to subscribe to that intent and respond.

          6. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          7. Michael Brill

            Also, what is “user-driven categorization?”

          8. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          9. Michael Brill

            It is a nice thought and probably true. But if you rely on every user to define their own vocabulary and hope that consensus emerges from the chaos, then I think you’re going to be stuck. The alternative approach (which I favor) is to give those with an economic incentive, strong domain knowledge and the ability to add value to people’s lives the ability to define and evolve vocabulary. If they get it wrong, someone else will get it right.

          10. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          11. Michael Brill

            That’s a *very* good thought but it relies on consensus. Other approach is to start with simple structure and allow ad hoc extensions and see which attributes win in long run. But I need to deliver on efficient translation of mental intent into a specific structure first… then will work on “best” structure definition approach later.BTW, you should know I’m a FG fanboy with a “MAKE USER MORE AWESOME” poster.

          12. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          13. Michael Brill

            Yup, have worked on my fair share of failed enterprise data modeling and industry data standards efforts… my approach is first mover gets to put stake in the ground and then others can try to convince first mover to extend/modify. If they’re not successful, they can go do their own. Just like a wiki entry I guess – if I don’t like your entry for a horse and you won’t let me modify, then I’ll just create my own horse entry and hope that the market likes mine more than yours.In any case, MVP and all that – I’ve got to ship something before I solve the unsolvable.

      2. ShanaC

        we are data

      3. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Reminds me of the conversation around Twitter’s interruptions.

      4. JamesHRH

        Bingo.Need to freeze the flow with a specific frame of utility.Apps will become very very focused.

    5. Michael Brill

      Definitely early days… but if Google Now opens up their backend (doubtful anytime soon) or Apple can figure out how to turn notifications+passbook++ into a useful platform for managing notifications (configuring, prioritizing, viewing), then we could see an explosion of interest.

  6. Tom Labus

    Be good for people who are coordinating meds when they’re sick.

    1. Richard

      Lots of players in this space.

      1. William Mougayar

        can you name a couple? that’s a great use case.

        1. Richard

          Rxmindme (app store has a huge list )

  7. Steven Cruz

    I wish Google now was available for iOS :(. I do have it for my nexus 7 though – simply amazing.

  8. Barry Nolan

    Google is improving its design innovation faster than Apple is improving its web services.

    1. awaldstein

      I’m not so sure.As a consumer company I really think Google is clueless. Innovation requires an audience. I’m never sure who Google builds products for. It’s never for the mass market.

      1. Matt A. Myers

        It feels like they’re experimenting to see who will use what they create, vs. specifically targeting – though that feels like they’re not really going to be servicing those groups enough.

        1. awaldstein

          Tech companies can throw stuff against the wall and see what sticks.Consumer companies that win make choices for their customers and they either win or loose. Apple is the penultimate consumer company.I find Google so so smart on some things but massively clueless on market perspective.

          1. Matt A. Myers

            It’s definitely strange that they do some things so well while seemingly ignoring others – or maybe they’re just planning those other pieces behind the scenes.

      2. LE

        “As a consumer company I really think Google is clueless.”Agree. All that flows from the top and how and who they hire. They need to dumb down a bit for that audience. To many “smart” people involved designing interfaces that they understand. Same thing that would cause microsoft to think that normals would want to see a machine startup sequence and think it’s cool (they don’t they just want something that works).And their naming is atrocious. “Android”

        1. Matt A. Myers

          Android is a great name.

      3. Barry Nolan

        Clueless? Nope. I was arguing on pace of design innovation: design ITO how something works. Android innovation has outstripped Apple iterations. I say that as an Apple devotee. And their services (Gmail, GNow, Maps) have invaded iOS.

      4. jason wright

        it seems like a very defensive company to me

        1. Matt A. Myers

          Could just be hand in hand with filling in gaps.

        2. JamesHRH

          +1000 – that is the mindset. Invent / defend.

          1. jason wright

            capture and defend. google’s invention was de minimis.everything else has been business strategy and partnership.

      5. Aaron Klein

        I think that’s changing.This from someone who owns the trifecta of Apple devices. 🙂

  9. Mike Cane

    A bit ironic, this example. This is what webOS was touted to be able to do by Roger McNamee and Palm had to issue a press release denial. Now it’s come to pass, by Google. What are your privacy concerns, however? And do you think the lack of this feature on the iPhone would make you stick with Android? And would you feel handcuffed by that?

    1. fredwilson

      i stick with android because i like it better than iOS and always have

  10. Scott Barnett

    Google Now is only on Jellybean, is that right? I’ve been waiting (rather impatiently) for Motorola/Verizon to offer Jellybean on the Droid Razr, but no luck. My contract runs out this summer, so worst case I’ll wait until then, but I’d love to try Jellybean and Google Now….well, NOW 🙂

    1. Matt Busche

      Unfortunately you’ll probably never see JB on your Razr. Verizon is atrocious at updating their phones (even the GNex is 4 updates behind). Your best bet is to root your phone and put CM on it.

      1. fredwilson

        i tried to do a cyanogen mod on a tmo galazy s2 last weekend and gave up after about 20 mins. it was not simple.

        1. JamesHRH

          What language did you write this comment in? Sanskrit?;-)

        2. Cam MacRae

          Way beyond the capabilities of the common man.

        3. LE

          I think I’ve made this type of comment before regarding you doing this type of thing (modification to a lifeline business device) and I just have to repeat I think it’s a really bad idea (once again: for you).

          1. Aaron Klein

            I don’t think the tmo galaxy s2 is his lifeline business device but I agree with you: it’s a pain and a huge risk if it is.

          2. fredwilson

            i feel it is my job to hack stuff. if i don’t do that, i should hang up my cleats and retire.

        4. Matt Busche

          The rooting process is difficult, but only needs to be done once. The manufacturers intentionally make this difficult, so you’ll buy new devices

    2. William Mougayar

      I’m on 2.3.5 (between Cupcake & Donut revisions), and Google Now is not showing-up in Google Play. Sigh :(If this was an iPhone app needing an updated iOS, the update would be done by now.If this isn’t a big issue for Androids, I’m not sure what is more important than ensuring that users can benefit from updates seamlessly without having to get a new phone every year.

      1. Barry Nolan

        Their release nomenclature is so confusing.

      2. Timothy Meade

        Exactly, Google has a great platform, but has been terrible at managing it as a single concrete whole.Android is, at it’s heart a custom Java VM and set of base classes, these reside on top of a hardware independence layer, which are built on top of a slighyly modified Linux kernel that has been customized for the hardware it is running on.Shortly before Android was launched, an Android representive spoke at the Linux Plumbers Conference, talking about how bad “throwing code over the wall” was and how Google had plans to contribute changes back to Linux and other upstreams.Unfortunately things didn’t quite work out that way, the modifications needed to the Linux kernel for Android to run, are, as I said, quite small. BinderIPC, a not-quite-out-of-memory OOM killer, changes to how PM works, a shared memory driver (ashmem), etc.The more extensive changes where those needed to make Linux work on specific hardware, the HTC Dream (G1) for instance. Here HTC’s instinctive Windows Mobile background creeped in, and Google, HTC, and Qualcomm customised every piece of the puzzle, the Qualcomm baseband firmware, the userland components that communicated with it at the kernel level (proc-comm and smd) and the Radio Interface Layer that communicated with the modem from the Android stack.This is where Google made a mistake, they believed this to be an abstraction that would allow the same userland to be ported to different hardware, that much is evident from the names of some of the libraries and daemons they created. But it wasn’t, audio codecs, the camera, the video codecs (at first) were all pretty tightly tied to the DSP in the Qualcomm MSM chips. The userland binary of the camera, for instance, had to be able to adjust parameters specific to the firmware and camera module in use. And this happened in other places as well. HTC has a piece of software that acts as a user interface layer, but has a device-specific hooks for things like the camera and is often also tied to a specific version of Android.Now, at the same time Google and it’s hardware partners were rapid fire shipping device after device with incompatible software cores, device of manufacture specific hacks that went around the layers that were supposed to separate the different pieces of the software stack, things were improving in the ARM world.Now it is possible to build a kernel for not just multiple “machines” meaning individual phones, but for multiple different SOCs. It is possible for different manufactures to compile a kernel for their device that could be used on a different CPU, or at least could share a common codebase with upstream, rather than SOC company provided patchsets that essentially transform a nice linux-2.6.26 into something entirely different. (I’ve seen patchsets from TI that do this). It’s now possible for linus + hardware drivers to be shipped and still have an ABI compatible kernel with every other Android device in that generation or release. But that would require coordination, and that is what Google’s Android is lacking.Let me explain, Google could say, Android 4.0.whatever uses Linux 3.6.whatever, and this set of userland interfaces, and we will ship a new version of Android that conforms to that standard every three months, it will not have a new kernel, new drivers, new radio layer, new 3D kernel interface, but everything Dalvik and up will be replaced.3D drivers are the remaining sticking point, the upstream kernel won’t accept an open source driver that only works with a closed source userland component, and the IP providers won’t provide documentation to develop open source userland components, so each brand has it’s own proprietary interface between userland and kernel, and most likely it’s own closed-source kernel module. There is now DRM and kernel mode setting, but the compatibility there ends with 2D graphics modes and the 3D stuff is bolted on top.Now, the other part of the puzzle that Google has shown little mastery over is the carriers. Apple’s success with the iPhone was the hardline tactic of demanding creative control of the final product, including the ability to ship firmware updates direclty. The carriers like to claim that type approval requires ultimate control of the device firmware, including at the user level, but there is no actual reason for that, in modern designs the baseband firmware is insulated from userspace by a command interface, AT and binary, that only allows operations to be performed that are safe for the network. The air interface can’t be accessed, only commands to dial the phone, connect audio pathways, or make or tear down a data connection are exported. The authentication happens in the modem, whether SIM based or not. (And all SIM unlocking requires modifications to radio firmware, and often exploits vulnerabilities in those layers or in the bootloader that loads those components.) The similarities between the eventual decline and fall of the Windows Mobile platform and the state of the Android platform that was essentially birthed from it are striking. The same “platform” mentalitity, the idea that the user facing components and the low level drivers are inexricobly linked in a “board support package” (BSP) that is produced for the hardware and support withdrawn when the device ships. The “blockbuster” mentaility of the carriers, that a device is only worth supporting for a few months after release, even though they expect us to retain them a full two years. Apple suffers none of this because they support two generations of one make of hardware, even when the chip is two under powered to support a majority of the new features they still release an upgrade.

        1. ShanaC

          why do the carriers insist on no support?

          1. JamesHRH

            Gosh but I love it when you reply to these type of comments!

        2. JamesHRH

          GOOG is & will always be poor at seeing anything thru a bigger lens.Larry does lots of independent releases. Sergey invents. Noone actually sees how it should all fit together (hence the easy MS comparisons).

          1. Carl Rahn Griffith

            I suspect over the long-game however that Google will be in a lot better shape than, say, Facebook.

        3. William Mougayar

          Yup. We keep waiting for Google to put some order into the Android ecosystem. Will it ever happen?

          1. Timothy Meade

            I don’t know, one possibility is Firefox Mobile gaining support for the Firefox OS interface and becoming a sort of rapid application development platform for older Android devices.

      3. Scott Barnett

        I was just thinking about this concept driving yesterday… I’m in the market for a 10.1 tablet, and I’ve narrowed it down to the Nexus 10 and the Samsung Note 10.1. Also, if I do get a new phone, it will likely be either the Nexus 4 or the Samsung Galaxy 4. The upside to the Nexus devices is that you always get the latest OS upgrades first…. but then, Google becomes just like Apple – it’s not really an open ecosystem if only the Google devices are the ones that get reliably upgraded.This has always been my anti-Apple fanboy rant – while they do make beautiful devices, I will not support a closed system. I’m starting to look at Amazon with the Fire and Google with Nexus and getting concerned that everybody is moving in that direction. This would not be a good thing for consumers.

      4. Aaron Klein

        I will never buy another Android without it being a stock Google device. The experience was just too frustrating.

  11. LE

    “I had a dinner meeting in my calendar at 6:15. At roughly 6pm, Google Now sent me a mobile notification”I’ve become aware that there is an impact on memory when you allow a device to do the work that the brain used to have to do.

    1. ashokraju7

      I see what you’re saying, but this is the typical thought of someone who’s afraid of technology overtaking our world. I’m not saying we should stop using our brains and let computers do everything for us, but the fact is technology isn’t going away and unless you plan on living under a rock for the rest of your life, I don’t see how you can avoid it.The truth is, you’ll probably adapt. Humans will evolve, generation over generation and adapt to technology being an integral part of every day lives. This isn’t new. Humans have been doing this for thousands of years. Paper and ink is technology. I can imagine some people argued back then that it was bad for us to write things down and instead we should memorize everything. Would you agree with them now? Of course, the transitional period is the difficult part, which I find myself struggling with as well. But our kids and kids, kids will look at this technology the way we look at paper and ink. Something they’ve known and used all their lives.

      1. markslater

        spot on. as i mentioned above – i was measured in my school life in large part based upon how good my memory was. My daughter will not be. She’ll never NEED to memorize a thing.

        1. ShanaC

          I would hope she memorizes her address and phone number

          1. JLM

            .I recently heard of an instance where a Mom reserved her kids’ cell phone numbers at birth.She wanted to ensure they got 512- area codes. ATX old school area code.JLM.

          2. ShanaC

            i’ve heard of people buying and selling 212 numbers

          3. LE

            When I was a kid my dad had a number ending in “1000” in our area code for his business. It was to make him seem like a bigger company than he was since all the major corporations locked up numbers like that.(At one point he also had a license plate that had “DPL” because for some reason that helped you avoid tickets in NYC when he was there in the 70’s.)It was also considered good practice to use a company name with an “A” because that got you to the top of any list, directory, or yellow pages when sorted alphabetically (if you could, all else equal). For a current example see a search I just did on opentable below.With respect to the phone numbers today I’ve casually observed many small businesses (or physician or professional offices) that have really random phone numbers like XXX-687-3871 etc. that are hard to remember (even though that is less important now it is still a factor). Wouldn’t you rather have XXX-687-7400 ?But I also see many small businesses with good phone numbers.It’s easy to get a good phone number if you a) know you can and b) are willing to put in some effort to make the person giving out the phone numbers (say the phone company or even google) give you a good one. It takes effort. So if you offload that to the office manager in your business they will simply call and take the first number given to them.This is also true with domain names and there is no doubt that observing this thinking in my fathers business allowed me to recognize the opportunity for domains back in the 90’s.

          4. Luke Chamberlin

            AAA Bail Bonds

        2. JLM

          .She will memorize the apps and key strokes.JLM.

      2. LE

        “but this is the typical thought of someone who’s afraid of technology overtaking our world.”Today my project is to install a third monitor on my desktop computer. In my outer office (in addition to the 30″ and 24” that are there now) I have 4 other computers that are for my exclusive use that are task specific. I automate everything that I can and I would say I have the productivity of at least 3 people as a result. In college I convinced a professor to allow me to bring in a typewriter so I could type answers to essays because it was easier for me. And it helped me get a better grade. If anything I am way ahead of the curve in discovering things that take other people years to figure out that save time (that Mac OS that everyone uses? It’s based on Unix something that I started using in the mid 80’s). The Internet? I used the arpanet in college.”Paper and ink is technology. I can imagine some people argued back then that it was bad for us to write things”Bringing up something that happened in the past that people complained about as a justification for why a point made today doesn’t matter, well, I simply don’t agree with that. It’s like “well I walked across the street for years and didn’t look and never got hit by a car …”Reminds me of my ex wife who says about the chances that she took in her teens and “everything is fine now” so it doesn’t matter what our daughters do etc.My point is not against technology it’s simply that there are cases where you have to be aware that using it in certain ways will have side effects.

        1. rustyspaceship

          Hey everybody, this guy started using Unix in the 80s! Early Unix adopter over here!See? Nobody cares.

        2. Russell

          Don’t worry LE! No long-time AVCers accusing you of being a luddite! I had a good chuckle about your comment – although I have to say a reminder that is sensitive to the amount of travel time to the next appointment, and current traffic conditions sounds pretty cool.

      3. ShanaC

        I know some exchassidim. One of the things I find facinating is that the men know how to memorize a lot (because that is how they dealt with schooling). They have an extremely difficult time transferring out of that form of thinking. Which also often comes with a lot of black and white thinking. Training yourself to suddenly not know (which often involved internet access) is actually this hard thing involving giving up those sorts of thinking)

      4. awaldstein

        Well said.The more our minds are freed up to interpret and use data rather than to store it, the better.Facts and data mean nothing. Opinions and how to use the data is everything.

    2. Dale Allyn

      LE: I, too, am very much affected by this. I now rely heavily on devices to manage data I once carried in my own memory (e.g. phone numbers). I do force myself to “exercise” the brain cells, but I’m very aware of things I no longer have committed to memory.For scheduling, I rarely look at my calendar though. I enter appointments and events to my electronic calendar and then rarely look at the content. A few very important (and easily forgotten) events I’ll have send notifications to me via email, just as a backup though. Being late or missing an appointment is not ever something I take lightly.

      1. markslater

        my daughter will never have to memorize a thing.

        1. ShanaC

          but she will have to learn to think more critically to survive

          1. JamesHRH

            I actually disagree.Sadly, the more transparent the world appears to be, the less it is.Contextual thinking is the skill that will be required in the 21st century, as women become more powerful in society.

          2. ShanaC

            by contextual thinking, you mean what

          3. JamesHRH

            Not taking things at face value and reading the unstated agenda or hidden meanings behind people’s actions.

          4. ShanaC

            wouldn’t that be critical thinking?

          5. JamesHRH

            hmmmmm. excellent question.I have always associated critical thinking with problem solving or strategic planning and contextual thinking with situational assessment.Critical = why & what & strategicContextual = what & how & tacticalBut that’s just me. They are both very important & feed each other in a virtuous cycle.

          6. markslater

            i put that out there as an extreme case – thanks all for responding.Seth godin actually talks alot about this notion.

        2. Mqs

          we are not hear to listen the boring story of your daughter….

          1. fredwilson

            hey, folks can talk about whatever they want here. that’s not a cool reply.

      2. JLM

        .The other day I was going through some accumulated old boxes from 25+ years ago and had a stack of these old leather, gold monogrammed diaries.I used to get them as Xmas presents from law firms and such. Slim, sleek, gold corners, monograms. Lots of entries and notes.A young person saw one and said what is that?I said these used to be “diaries” I carried in my suit coat pocket.”Wow, those are so vintage.”This is where we have arrived — our lives have become “vintage”.JLM.

        1. Dale Allyn

          Haha. Too true.

        2. Cam MacRae

          There’s one open on my desk right now. If I don’t write it down, it didn’t happen.

        3. LE

          “I used to get them as Xmas presents from law firms and such”When I was in high school I was a “gopher” for a law firm. As such I used to deliver the xmas presents. The top gift at the time was a color tv to the best clients. The ones that spent the most money with the law firm.I’m glad you weren’t worthy of that as a gift and only got the gold diaries! Why? For the same reason I feel that if salespeople like you many times it means you aren’t getting the best deal. Salespeople (the tradition kind) tend to like people that don’t give them a hard time and are easy to deal with and don’t drive a hard bargain. While I am sure there are exceptions that has been what I have correlated.Interesting thing though about the law gifts. I had a company that I dealt with that was started by an attorney (and later sold). The first year and ever year while he owned the company he would send me a gift. One year it was a IP phone. I’m guessing he picked up that habit from his law practice and just carried it over to the new business he started.For the longest time I used the same (I think it was called) “day minder” spiral to write notes in. You are right it was a great way to look back and remember what happened day to day.

        4. Russell

          I found one of these from my father – looked up the day I was born … no entry … then the next day – “no sleep!” Cool to have the paper record, as I’m sure my kids will never see my electronic diary, but sometimes the important things don’t even make it into the diary.

          1. JLM

            .Can you imagine the emotion going through the pen and the ink and the paper?All love.He was writing about you.And then there you were.Life — is wonderful, mysterious and grand.JLM

          2. JamesHRH

            I just stumbled upon some handwritten letters from my maternal grandmother – a person of wisdom & verve, who lived an extraordinary life.I can’t imagine an email being as impactful, 30 years from now.

          3. JLM

            .Yes, in those days people actually said things of importance. Thoughtful.In some ways, that is one of the charming things about — the quality of the comments.JLM.

        5. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          1. JLM

            .Damn good point.May be two years and remember you are an otherwise extinct species, Grim.JLM.

          2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          3. JLM

            .The Grim is a dino for all times. Hell, you survived the Ice Age what’s a little splash of global warming to such a dino?Do stay clear of the big asteroids crashing into Earth. It was apparently not a good thing for your brethren.JLM.

          4. FAKE GRIMLOCK


    3. ShanaC

      true. I’ve become less aware of time. But I also found that because I am not thinking about that sort of thing, I’m able to pack away other sorts of thoughts

    4. Druce

      There were brain studies that showed in London taxi drivers, the part of the brain associated with navigation physically grew in size, the longer they navigated London streets.Someone should do a before and after study when people start using smart phones. For sure the part associated with remembering phone numbers must have shrunk.

    5. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Maybe you free up space to remember more high-value things. It’s your brain – give it something to do 😉

    6. fredwilson

      i have been seeing that impact on me for a long time now.

    7. Donna Brewington White

      But, LE, this kind of thing can be said about a lot of ways in which we have become dependent upon technology — even low tech like refrigerators and gas ovens. We have to exercise to compensate for the lesser amount of exercise required by our lifestyles now that we no longer have to work to make basic things happen (like chopping wood for fires to heat our homes — my husband does this but that’s by choice).I’d like to think that I use my brain even more productively and effectively with the space freed up from having to remember minute details. Or maybe that’s how I console myself since my once elephant-like memory is no longer as reliable.Through technology we now have the problems of the leisure class (1st world problems) even without necessarily having the wealth of the aristocrats. But problems that I welcome, thank you,

      1. LE

        “(like chopping wood for fires to heat our homes — my husband does this but that’s by choice)”When we moved in and had some tree work done I had all the wood (large pieces obviously) left so I could do exactly that. I bought an axe and started to try to chop the wood a little at a time. (It really was great exercise.) As I was doing this I slowly figured out how to be more productive with chopping the wood (adding a wedge and just generally figuring out the techniques necessary.) I was aware that there was obviously a video that I could have watched to see exactly from the start how to chop the wood and what to use. But I really enjoyed the “challenge” of figuring it out on my own. After all if I only wanted wood I could have easily just had it delivered by the cord.

      2. Aaron Klein

        I’m with you. Progress is a good thing. We only have to look across the ocean at the continent of Africa to see what happens when we lock people out of progress due to fear.

    8. Carl Rahn Griffith

      I try and tell my wife this when she tells me what to do … 😉

    9. Dave W Baldwin

      It is a matter of it being a new world. Some from an early age had to write everything down while others could remember. Then those who could remember eventually had to realize, due to age, their memory was not quite up to par.As you have the machine take care of details, the opportunity to use the brain more in focus will happen. Yes, there are the lazy who think the machine will just do it and sit on their ass, but they would sit on their ass whether there was the intelligent machine or not.Remember, we’re hardly brushing the surface where Machine Learning can advance to point where your machine takes care of things and worries if they are done or not.That doesn’t even touch a new era of education that I’m quiet about at present….

  12. J. Lightfield

    On IOS there’s the easilydo app, which does some of the “leave now” notifications, but its hardly seamless. Personalized real time location based information will be a killer app or two down the road. I think its just a matter of time for the technology to get there.

  13. jason wright

    anyone have personal privacy concerns about GOOG?



    2. markslater

      nope. live in public.

    3. Aaron Klein

      Pro tip: if you don’t want it to be public, don’t post it on the Internet. 😉



        1. LE

          Free is something that is such a powerful un-motivator when paired with a chance of a remote future event which could be avoided by paying (or paying more).And when that future event can’t easily be quantified. Fred is now considering measures to protect his house even though I don’t really believe the risk is more than it was 1 year ago. Or I guess if you tried to sell it to him 1 year ago and presented evidence that a flood might happen it would be a tough sell. Now it’s an easy sell at least in the short term (people forget quickly and get complacent). Fred is probably experiencing this right now. “Do I really need to do this and buy the generator maybe…”It’s really hard to sell a mass product and charge for it if someone is giving away the same product for free and people either don’t know of don’t feel there is an immediate recognizable downside to using that free product.Now once they get burned of course the wallets open up because people have a clear and present danger.An exception to this of course is insurance products. But in order for people to spend money on insurance they have to see social proof that others do the same. Forgetting that you buy fire insurance because the mortgage company requires it I’m sure there are other events that are equally probable that people don’t buy insurance for just because there are no examples of social proof that make people feel it’s the right decision.As far as gmail (free gmail) google will block the IP of any server that it feels is sending out to much spam, in it’s sole discretion and opinion. And there is literally no (easy way) to get google’s attention to change their mind on that decision.

      2. jason wright

        public presence and privacy are not incompatible.the issue with google is that it could collect data from all the points of my public presence (or it did until i switched to Startpage search engine usage). i’m here on avc, but i’m also elsewhere at other times.

  14. Kevin OKeefe

    Thanks for the info Fred, does USV use Google Apps for Business? We do for a company of 25, but there’s been recent pushback internally that gmail has not been reliable for sending and receipt of our email. Curious what others think.

    1. Dale Allyn

      Kevin, I have a client who has been using G. Apps for Business for a team of eight or so. They, too, have not enjoyed the gmail component after using it for quite a long while. They’re moving (moved) to IMAP and Outlook. They’re a Windows office, so are comfortable with Outlook (not the Express or Windows Mail versions). Part of their complaints with gmail were UI/UX torture – with which I agree.I’m a Mac user, so prefer Apple Mail to access all my email accounts, including gmail accounts (allowing search across all accounts, etc), but that’s separate from reliable service you mention.

      1. markslater

        We are 16 people currently. 4 PCs 11 MACs at lat count – all using GMAIL, google apps and google drive. Our CTO likes apple mail talking to all his use gmail other tools for business is a very liberating experience. I would never ever go back to outlook or be a PC based company for that matter.

        1. Timothy Meade

          Chromebook and Chromeboxes might be the next logical step.I’m hoping that Google will develop a basic chromebox that ships as an HDMI dongle and include them free with Google Apps subscriptions at the enterprise level. That might go along way to supplant Windows and Office in the workplace and reduce maintanence costs.

        2. Dale Allyn

          We use Google Drive for some sharing/collaboration, but I’m not married to Google products. We also use Basecamp some. We build some of our solutions on our servers as well, when it makes sense to do so.I don’t love the G. Apps experience at times and revert to local applications on my Macs, especially for spreadsheets or for documents for which I care about formatting.It’s nice to have options.

    2. phonon_moderator

      I had a Google Apps for business email account that faced serious problems of reliability. But that email id used to receive probably thousands of mails each day (mostly auto archived into labels) which may not have been the right way to use email. I was almost substituting it for an analytics and feedback system in some ways (bad idea). Switched to a new id with the same account and had no issues.

    3. fredwilson

      we use google apps for business and have not had any issues

  15. Michael Brill

    Google Now is in a completely different class from Siri. With the knowledge graph and machine learning, it has a huge and fast-growing back end that Apple cannot possibly create or buy, and whatever it does with notifications+passbook+remote view controllers likely won’t be enough.With Google Now, we’re seeing the first steps in reconfiguring the app model around scenarios. Apps become services pushed behind a common UI that serves 80% of what a person needs on a daily basis just fine and links out to a web/native app only as needed. It’s exciting because it’s another massive reduction in the cost and time to translate an idea into a system. $5m > $500k > $5k?

    1. ShanaC

      yes! Getting access to the google now API could be a killer for a lot of apps

      1. Michael Brill

        I think it will be *great* for Google but potentially a disaster for everyone else. If Google opens this up then they’ll have to monetize it or else it just becomes a new channel for marketers to spam up. Only way to control that is make content providers pay for access (or could give users tons of control, but they won’t). So now to reach users in this way, you have to pay the Google Now tax.They’re sizing an app unit like an ad unit and we all know how much of that market they own. To the extent that they provide tools and data to create these new app units and let app unit creators access parts of knowledge graph in targeting users… it makes my head spin how huge this can be but also how dangerous it could be if they want to try to take it all.(maybe a slightly exaggerated view… maybe not)

        1. ShanaC

          i’m not totally sold. At some point we’re going to crack the radio problem(s) so why not use that data in mobile sites

          1. Michael Brill

            Sorry, what’s a “radio problem?”

          2. ShanaC

            not enough spectrum

          3. Michael Brill

            I *think* what I’m saying is that Google is bundling the platform with application content. To the extent that Google Now is a platform (the way a browser is a platform or Google Glass is a platform), it is different from other platforms in that it prescribes a very specific user interaction pattern and, as of now, only allows Google content.If they do open that up in the future, it won’t be unfettered access – it’ll be, er, fettered by a Google Now AdCards model where a third party needs to spend $1.00 just to notify you that a spot at a fancy hard-to-get-into restaurant that you want to go to just opened up and you can confirm it with a click.Is that an app or an ad?

    2. fredwilson

      yup. so true.

      1. Michael Brill

        Spent a bit of time thinking about this micro-app model in other contexts… for instance imagine Kik’s card model as general purpose application creation and deployment inside of a messaging context. It’s more of a synchronous model than Google Now, but the core concept of small application units delivered in a consistent context is the same. Could be huge for messaging.

        1. markslater

          you could not be more correct! this is the platform taking out the point solution (mobile apps) by swallowing 80% functionality in to a beautiful UX.

          1. Michael Brill

            All I can say is this has the opportunity to be the most fascinating transformation/battle in technology since probably forever. 5 years from now Google will either be a trillion dollar company or it will be a smoldering mess of global domination gone wrong. Sounds a bit fantastical but if you play this out and see the massive, massive inefficiencies in the consumer economy ($20+ trillion) stripped away through data+analytics+automation+UI, it’s not only feasible, it’s likely.A handful of companies could thwart this (probably) with an open model that federates/opens the backend and maximizes user control instead of maximizing revenue from this new application/communications channel. But that’s such a long game when everyone is simply playing catch-up on earbud shapes and microphones. Sigh.

          2. markslater

            its all messaging at its core. These point solutions (apps) have wrapped a portfolio of messages in a nifty GUI and have leveraged the real estate of the consumers pocket to disrupt a category of payment processors who were traditionally focused on the business as the most commonly used “app” for the consumer at the time was a piece of plastic not silicon.But in doing so – they have become enslaved to the processing business and unless they can get from point to platform, will become marginalized by those that see platform swallowing point and thereby become a universal app with 80% of key point functionality nicely wrapped in a GUI.

          3. Michael Brill

            I got the first sentence and 80% and GUI, but the rest is a bit fuzzy. Could you restate?

          4. markslater

            Sure. These category of companies have leveraged the smartphone to disrupt the legacy processors. They did this by embedding the cc within the app and in doing so grabbing the fee. The legacy guys never bothered to be consumer facing as the consumer used a cc. Now the app guys have created nifty functionality to get the cc embedded and in doing so disrupt the legacy processors.But that’s short cited.

    3. raycote

      ” Apps become services pushed behind a common UI”Nicely reusable netaphor(pun intended) !” ______ become _______ when pushed behind a common _______”- Kernel Functions become an Operating-System when pushed behind a common Application Interface- Big-Data Functions become a Community-Operating-System when pushed behind a common Social-Data Interface- Reusable-Social-Behavior Functions become a Cyber-Culture OS when pushed behind a common Social-Networking Interface- step and repeat

      1. markslater

        love this.

  16. matthughes

    Was there any video posted on that event at the Leonardo?

    1. fredwilson

      i think there will be but i am not sure if it has gone up

  17. markslater

    i’m seeing alot more of PLUS as well.

  18. @billg

    Google Now + Wearable Devices presents an interesting opportunity for new kinds of fashion accessories that simplify our increasingly digital-oriented lifestyles. Think about getting that Google Now alert without having to dig your phone out of your pocket.Smartwatches, Google Glass, etc are just the beginning. It’s where Bill Blass meets Bill Gates.

    1. JamesHRH

      Interesting angle on this Bill. A 21st century Medic Alert braclet maybe?

  19. Elia Freedman

    Michael Mace wrote in an incredible article a number of years ago on the various use cases for mobile computing. He simplified it down to three core user groups: communications, entertainment, and information. I believe very strongly that the first two are being covered well but the third is basically ignored. This is why I think Blackberry or Microsoft have a shot at playing in the market. Unfortunately neither company seems to be focused on that opportunity, instead content on competing with Apple and Google, who dominate with a primary focus on communication and entertainment users. Mike’s article is here:…Google Now is interesting to me because it starts to get at a core need of information users. I have an appointment each month and invariably I forget the meeting once every couple of months. So I start setting an alarm, which sets off 10 devices around my house and means another thing I have to set. But Google Now has the potential to be smart enough to know where I am, the direction I am heading, what’s on my calendar, and which devices I have with me. If it knows all that, it can be smart enough to tell me if I’m not headed to my appointment, reminding me it’s time to go but also smart enough to not tell me if it sees I am on my way.Once my devices are smart enough to look at my calendar, contacts and current position — with all kinds of other information — it can be smart enough to help me in all kinds of ways. I’m driving and traffic is backed up beyond my vision, it can tell me to take an alternative route. It knows where my meeting is and which parking meters are open near by, directing me to the one closest to my meeting. It knows where I am headed is for work and track the mileage for my expense report automatically.As an information user myself feeling a bit underserved by current apps and OS implementations, I can’t wait for this future.

  20. Ali Kuru

    Unfortunately, it’s quite limited if you haven’t turned your web history on.

    1. fredwilson

      ah. i must have done that. i will check though. thanks.

  21. JLM

    .Google NOW must be quite intuitive because I have apparently been using it for some considerable time on my phone and Nexus 7.I don’t recall do anything other than updating the software.I particularly like using it on the Nexus 7.JLM.

  22. Alexander Ainslie (@AAinslie)

    With #GoogleNow et al, $GOOG’s playing a beautiful #LongGame.

  23. ShanaC

    Actually, what surprises me is how much of Google Now is driven by data exhaust. EG: your leaving for meetings is a function of knowing where you are.I was talking a guy who has been recently ending up in the same place Goggle Now now tells him that he needs to go to work, and automatically labeled that place as his workplace.It seems a number of the functions I’ve seen beyond location used in Google now are based on just shana acting like shana with her phone In that sense, it feels far more personalized than Siri.Now if we only could do the same sort of capture and use with real exhaust….

    1. JLM

      .What an interesting description. Well played.There may be hope for the Millenials — Google NOW will just tell them to go to work and they will obey?JLM.

      1. JamesHRH

        Now that’s funny.

      2. Aaron Klein


      3. ShanaC

        my millenial friends work hard 🙁 i think the running late thing is actually driven by phones and the ease of rescheduling

  24. Tom Maxwell

    I use Google Now a lot to check if my flight’s are going to be delayed. Love it.

  25. Druce

    Seems like part of the Google+ play, concern that as people get more info from social discovery vs. search, Google will get left behind. Takes search knowledgebase and turns it into almost a customized Twitter stream / Facebook wall based on what the user is currently doing.It’s pretty clever. I think people are a little more sanguine about Google not being left behind since Page took over..Although Now somehow decided I’m a Man U. fan from having looked up a big game score a couple of times. And I have to teach it I don’t really drive, every time I search for a burger or something it tells me, driving time to 67 Burger 12 minutes.

    1. fredwilson

      yup. they still have a lot of work to do

    2. JamesHRH

      The problem with all AI is that you are predicting the current specific from the past general.There is always a % of misses. That %, almost always, is larger than the acceptable % of American consumers. I use no GOOG cloud products at the moment, so I am unlikely to NOW it. But I suspect it would not WOW me.

      1. Michael Brill

        100% agree… lots of machine learning apps emerging that have no ability to incorporate real intent or context. As you pointed out, you either get a stream of false positive and it gets so annoying that you turn it off or you get nothing and, well, it’s the same as turning it off. Google Now does well where it has explicit intent/context but sort of useless otherwise. Questions are how much they will be able to infer over time and whether they’ll figure out a way to incorporate explicit intent into the machinery.

    3. Michael Brill

      Turning people in Man U fans is probably the single best feature implemented by anyone, ever.

  26. chudson

    I feel the same way – I even blogged about it a few weeks ago. I find that Google Now provides much more utility than Siri with substantially less effort:

  27. Kirsten Lambertsen

    I’m rereading “Crossing The Chasm” and it contains some discussion about how delivering the “whole product” is why companies win. I think that Google is very possibly going to win here by delivering the whole product, similar to how Microsoft won for a long time.I will try Google Now because I already use Google Calendar, Drive and GMail and own an Android phone. Google is making sure that all the necessary components are there to deliver me a “whole product.”To draw the tortured comparison, Google might be Microsoft and Apple might be Netscape.I love Apple products (such as my Air). But when it came time to choose, I bought an Android phone because it would work instantly with my other Google services and (as a plus) it was more affordable.

    1. JamesHRH

      Kirsten – it is never tortured to compare GOOG to MS. Founders are very similar in nature, company was, until recently, nearly identically managed (stylistically & structurally).

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Good point. I just feel squeamish about any comparison 😉 They have their place, though.

    2. Donna Brewington White

      That book awakened something in me about 7 years ago. It would be interesting to read it again now that tech has become more familiar territory. For instance, I completely missed the “whole product” concept.

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Not only is it jam-packed with great information, it’s easy to read. So glad I picked it up again. I am reading the new edition, so you might want to get that if you’re planning to re-read.

        1. ShanaC

          what number edition is that? i had an edition that i found (for free)

          1. Kirsten Lambertsen

            It’s the First Collins Business Essentials edition 2006. I was amazed to see the first pub date was 1991.

    3. awaldstein

      Geoffrey’s books are still a great read with a lot of wisdom.I worked with him a while back and he keynoted a series of conferences I ran (GIPC) for a bunch of years in the internet and transactional performance space.He can really fill a room with ideas and set the tone for an entire 3 day conference.

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        I believe it. It’s one of those books that has me jumping out of bed in the morning, excited to put it into practice.

      2. JimHirshfield

        Impressive. I didn’t know you worked with him.

    4. Aaron Klein

      Love Crossing but Apple is providing more of the whole product than Google, imho. I am typing this in Google Chrome on iPad on a mobile LTE connection. On iOS, I can get almost every Google service (Now is coming) but I don’t have to make compromises on hardware.I will not buy another Android with carrier bloatware on it and yet stock Google phones don’t have LTE and stock Google tablets don’t have cellular connectivity at all.So for now…I’m all Apple hardware and all Google services because it just works with no compromises.

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Interesting points. Perhaps “whole product” is in the eye of the beholder… Lots to contemplate there.Google has inserted itself into several areas of our lives. Apple seems silo’d in hardware (albeit, great hardware). Google’s hardware doesn’t have to be superior to Apple’s if the market perception is that Google delivers the whole product (according to “Crossing”theory, anyway).I’m not advocating for either. “Whole product” is just on my mind these days, and Google v Apple seems like a good case study.

    5. JLM

      .From a total skeptic, I have now become a Google devotee.Everything I try from Google seamlessly — well almost seamlessly — coordinates with some other product.I am phone, tablets (yes, 7″ and 10″) and all software. Some of the software is not that good at the margin but good enough.JLM.

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        I think your description backs up the “Crossing” thesis: the product does not have to be the best, feature-wise, if it delivers the whole product (for a particular customer) and a path of least resistance.

  28. reece

    google’s expertise in ‘search’ in general is really impressive, and i love it has recently manifested itself in ‘Now’ among other productsparticularly love Googling for something and seeing the answer i want, provided by Google, directly in the results, without having to click through to a link etcthat’s one less click on a sponsored link, but it further cements my loyalty as a user

  29. MicroSourcing

    It’s about time Google came up with something to rival Siri, which has been one of Apple’s strongest products. Google has been doing something similar with Google Reminders, though the company has now blended it well with voice recognition.

  30. awaldstein

    A big apology to everyone.With Disqus being broken and not getting alerts for, before 24 hours and now a few hours, i have a bunch of ‘dangling conversations’ to catch up on.Today’s Disqus bug seems to be that even w/in alerts clicking on a comment takes you to the page not the comment and have no time to search through strings lately.So—I’ll track down and complete all conversations. I take them seriously as you know.

    1. JimHirshfield

      Links to comments are working for me.

  31. Dave W Baldwin

    This is a reason that the swing toward Google over Apple will continue. I’m not sure if anyone commented on the other development at Google where Kurzweil has just joined the engineering team. So you have his Singularity University sitting right there (partially funded by Google) and Ray himself at Google. Game changer.

  32. Jeffrey Hartmann

    I absolutely love Google Now, I really think applications like Google Now are just a little taste of how computers are evolving. I really firmly believe that as computers gain more ‘senses’ that this always on, melt into the background, helpful without being in your face interaction pattern is only going to get more sophisticated and ubiquitous. My wife often goes to garage sales on Saturday and comes home for a late lunch. Google Now has realized this and around lunch time it will pop up a little notification telling her how much time to home and what the traffic looks like on the route.Imagine how much more sophisticated this will be once computers can do basic math (I mean word problem type math here, not spreadsheets/statistics/etc.), simple reasoning and are our wallets, cars and more integrated in our work life. They can tell us when buying that item needs us to make a transfer from savings to cover the purchase, make recommendations for saving money, telling us the route we take to work isn’t optimal, etc.I really love the concept of computers extending and augmenting our capabilities. I’m so excited what the next 5 to 10 years will bring. Its going to be an amazing ride.

  33. Techman

    Hmm…perhaps I should give it a try indeed. I guess it’s Google’s competitor for Apple’s Siri.

  34. Jamie

    Hi Mr. Wilson,It was a very interesting article!! I wonder that whether you think Google is more a software, entertainment, or internet company? And for example, if I want to set up my own entertainment company like a film production company, do you as VC think I should make it as a traditional one or one that is more software-based and is heavy on the digital and tech side? And which one do you think is riskier?BestJamie