Those who have received the Jelly Bean (Android 4.1) update on their smartphones have been bowled over - not by the changes in the UI, but by two features - Google Voice Search and Google Now.

This is what Google says about Now: “It tells you today’s weather before you start your day, how much traffic to expect before you leave for work, when the next train will arrive as you’re standing on the platform, or your favourite team's score while they’re playing. And the best part? All of this happens automatically. Cards appear throughout the day at the moment you need them.”

The ‘cards’ are the information that you get automatically on your phone. To access the cards, you have to look for one in the notification bar. Most probably, you will find the weather card. You may also find other cards that show you how long it would take to reach your office (if you have save both your home and work locations). If you don’t find other cards, you have to click on ‘Show more cards’ link. You will find cards that show places of interest near where you are. You will also find cards that display bus or train routes with time if you are near a bus stop or a railway station.

It also syncs with your calendar to show the next appointment. It will also tell you how long it would take for you to reach the place.

I was quite sceptical about Google Now working in India, but was pleasantly surprised to find the details of bus routes with the time whenever I crossed any. I was also surprised when I searched for driving directions in Google Map in my computer, it displayed the directions with the estimated time, on my mobile as well.

(This article was published on August 9, 2012)
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