When Software Just Gets Smarter

The last time we were in Japan, six years ago, using Google Maps was pretty frustrating. We didn’t understand the Japanese language and addresses made no sense to us. We got lost multiple times a day and often had to find a person on the street who spoke english to help us out.

It is a pretty stark difference this trip. Google Maps seems to understand much of what it did not the last time around. The directions are great and we have yet to get lost.

Last night, I directed a cab driver in Kyoto who did not speak english using Google Maps on my phone and pointing right or left or straight each time we got to an intersection. We got to dinner on time and everyone, including our cab driver, was relieved.

I think this is a great example of the power of machine learning and other technologies that software makers are using to make their apps smarter and smarter. And that leads to better user experiences and delivers more value.

Much of this happens behind the scenes and is never announced as a new feature. The software just works better. And we come to expect this of our software and we take it for granted.

But it is pretty magical when you have the opportunity, like we are having in Japan with Google Maps, to compare an app to its younger version and see how much it has improved. You can see the software getting smarter over time and that’s kind of amazing.