Google Now has won Popular Science’s Innovation of the Year, putting it in the company of past winners such as the Large Hadron Collider, the Toyota Prius and the Mars Curiosity Rover.
In giving the award, the magazine calls Now “the first virtual assistant that truly anticipates your needs”. Since its initial launch with Android Jelly Bean, the virtual search assistant has grown up a little bit.
Now incorporates elements of Knowledge Graph, but also acts as a personal assistant. It tells you the day’s weather, how much traffic to expect on your way to work, and can give you live sports scores.
Some of the more recent updates include the addition of a pedometer and public safety alerts.
According to Google Now team member Andrew Kirmse, the product was incubated as a 20% time project from a few people on the Google Maps team:
Google Now started when a few of us on the Maps team thought there was some really useful information we could show you on your phone based on where you are, and so we started working on it in our spare time, as a 20% project (as many projects at Google start). The further we got on the project, the more compelling it became, and everyone saw the potential of it.
Fellow team member Ben Gomes meanwhile believes that the service is about “making you feel more powerful with your Android device”.