My daily driver or main smartphone that I have been using is the Nexus 5 since it was released in October 2013. There are many reasons I enjoy using the Nexus 5 and one main reason is the integration of Google Search and Google Now into the smartphone. And since receiving my Nexus 5 phone the Google Now experience has gotten even more useful. This is very good and yet a little bad because I count on the service so much I have stopped changing my Android launcher or flashing a different rom. The real issue may come when I look to upgrade to a new phone and there are no more Nexus phones.
What Google Now Offers
It is important to know everything that Google Now can do for you to understand why I would not want to switch from the Google Now launcher. The ever watchful Google gives me information that I not only need but information that I want. Because I am using the Now launcher on my Nexus 5 it is very easy to swipe right and get updates on sports scores, news, website links, and weather. And if that is not enough Google continues to add more and more features into the Google Now cards. Recently they just added a Now card to help you find where you parked your car. This is something that other apps do, but having right there on the left of my homescreen makes finding my car easier than opening an app. The parking feature is not something I use often but it is a nice addition to my Now cards.
My Google Now cards include sports scores and upcoming games for my favorite Detroit teams as well as Michigan State Spartans scores and upcoming games. This is another feature that third party apps offer but works just as well in my Now cards and is easier to get to. The next set of Google Now cards for me include 3 to 4 cards regarding my interests and Google Internet searches. This part will not be the same for everyone and can really change how much Google Now helps you(I will talk about this later). My last Now cards are the weather forecasts for where I live and where I work, since Google knows the location of both. The weather cards gives you a quick look at the current temperature and a five day forecast.
I also get several different Now cards depending on the time of day and if I have an appointment scheduled. At the beginning and end of my work day Google Now will give me a card with a Map to or from work and an estimated time it will take to get there. This is something I could get if I opened Google Maps and got directions, but it makes it very easy to see how long my commute will be without opening an app. Another feature that I enjoy with Google Now is that whenever I purchase something online and receive an email with the tracking info it will create a Now card showing my tracking information and expected delivery date. The only other card that Google Now has is cards that will track different stock prices for any serious investor who wants to get up to date stock prices. This is just about everything that Google Now cards offer so far and I assume they will continue to add more and more services and features.
How to get the most from Google Now
To get the most out of Google Now cards you need to be in the Google atmosphere and use the many Google services. If you do not use Gmail than any email related Information like tickets or flights will not be included in your Google Now cards. So if you use a lot of iOS or Microsoft services than Google won’t be able to get that information and display it in the Google Now interface. If you want to get the most helpful information from Google Now cards there are several Google services you will want to enable and use.
Google Location Services
When enabled Google Location Services your phone can use WiFi, Cell, or GPS to determine your location. This can be helpful for many different apps like Waze, Google Maps, Foursquare and many others. This is very helpful information if you do not mind Google having it. The integration of Google Location Services in Google Now Launcher gives you the added feature of time to home and work and any other known location, and a newly introduced feature to Google Now a map and address of where you parked your car.
If you use Gmail which I suggest because it seems to be the best free email service available. You can connect it to Google Now you will get many Informative cards in you Google Now Launcher. With Gmail connected you will get cards for package tracking on purchases, Flight tracking and directions to the events, and bar codes to be used as a ticket for a flight or event. I have become used to getting these cards and I would not want to miss this from my Google Now Launcher.
One feature that I like is the connection between my Google Web searches and Google Now Launcher. This is a neat feature that shows updates to websites that I visit regularly as Google Now Cards. And because I sign in to Google Chrome on all my devices Google will show updates to some pages I visit often on any device. This may not be a feature you want to use if you are worried about your web browsing privacy.
Google Now will remind you of upcoming appointments but this only works if you use the Google Calendar as your main calendar. If you use a specific calendar program or store your schedule in Outlook you will not be able to get reminders in Google Now.
So if you are like me and use all of the Google services anyway the Google Now integration makes life so much easier. Google has created the Google Now Launcher on the Play Store for non Nexus phones to use which offers some of the Google Now features. If you use all of Google services that you will enjoy using Google Now.