I often wish that my smartphone was a bit smarter. Earlier this week I got stuck in a huge traffic jam… If only I had checked traffic on Google Maps before I pushed off. On the other hand in theory my smartphone knows that I take the same road 5 times a week and it should have warned me about the accident on the highway…
In practice our phones are much worse in understanding the routine and the context than we would expect. Google and Apple are trying to change it and they are making their operating systems smarter each year but they are still far from being really useful right when you need them.
Last week Google unveiled a new Android feature called Nearby that aims to make your smartphone maybe not smarter but at least a bit more user-friendly. It will suggest you most useful apps and websites based on your location. For example if you’re at a museum, you might be notified of the app that offers the audio tour. If you’re about to board a flight, your Android device may suggest you install the airline’s app for in-flight entertainment.
Nearby is rolling out to users as part of the upcoming Google Play Services update and it requires Android 4.4 (KitKat) and above. You’ll also need your Location and Bluetooth services to be turned on. The Bluetooth suggests that the feature will be supporting beacons, which is a good news to the beacon industry which is still struggling to monetize their business.
The feature is opt-in so it won’t work until you turn it on.