Weekly Poll: Are You Impressed by Google Now?

Those of you with a Nexus device (or one of the few other phones and tablets with an official Jelly Bean update or unofficial ROM) have surely already tried out Google Now. What do you think of it?

I hate to say it, but I’m a little disappointed — it doesn’t feel ready yet. I was really interested to read Joe’s recent post outlining Google Now, as his experiences don’t match mine.

Part of the issue is that I’m in the UK. I had to fiddle around with the locality settings to switch from the old robot to the new voice in the first place, which was not a good start. And although Google Now understands my asking “When are the Cubs playing?”, showing me a card of the latest scores and giving me updates periodically from then on, it has no idea what I mean by “When is Manchester United playing?”, simply showing me a standard Google search result.

Okay, so it’s not international yet. That’s irritating, but understandable. Unfortunately, other little irritations exist, and they do add up. For instance, setting a reminder is useful, and I find myself doing it a lot: “In 15 minutes, remind me to take the vegetables out of the oven” successfully sets an alarm for fifteen minutes in the future, prompting me to “take the vegetables out of the oven.” Great! But these gradually fill up my stock Alarms list, so that it’s now full of odd times — and there’s no way to select several and delete them all. Plus, a request like “On Tuesday, remind me to do the recycling” brings up an error message, rather than setting an alarm, a calendar appointment, or a Google Task.

There are inconsistencies, too. Most voice actions are given as though talking to a person: “Remind me to X”, “What’s the weather like?”, “Navigate to X”. But “Play music” just loads the Google search results for [play music] (of which the first result is the Play Store listing for, yep, Play Music). To make the phone play music, I have to say, “Listen to music”. And even then it just loads a playlist of songs whose title contains the word “music”!

I could go on, but I won’t. I really like the idea of Google Now; I like the presentation, I like the concept – but it’s not ready yet. In time (and especially when other app developers build on top of it) I think it will be great. But for now, it’s just a novelty that’s more annoying that useful. Do you agree?