Google I/O: ‘Now’ App ‘Understands’ 100 Million Places

This is more than just supplying business listings, Google says, as the company also makes a full embrace of IoT with “Project Brillo.”

The Google Now mobile app that collects and displays virtual “cards” showing users their calendar, weather, travel itinerary, and even how long it will take them to get is being updated with additional information from outside apps like OpenTable and Yelp to provide greater place-based context.

The app’s additional uses were detailed by Aparna Chennapragada, Google Now’s product director, at the company’s 8th annual Google I/O developer showcase. Google Now has accrued contextual “understanding” of more than 100 million places around the world, Chennapragada noted, which will help power searches within the Google Now as well as offer closer connections between other apps that users may juggle at any given time.

Google Now's Aparna Chennapragada shows the connection with OpenTable.
Google Now’s Aparna Chennapragada shows the connection with OpenTable.

Now, With More Understanding

While the implications for Google’s ability to expand large and small local businesses’ digital presence seems huge, it’s unclear if these enhancements to the Google Now app are strictly native to Android phones or if they will work on Apple’s iOS version as well. (We have contacted Google and will update accordingly.)

In her example of how Google Now’s interaction with other apps and local information, Chennapragada displayed dinner plans that she and her husband had made on OpenTable’s reservation platform.

As OpenTable displayed the menu within the all-encompassing Google Now, Chennapragada was able to search for more details and images about menu items — as well as get a reminder for her husband to pick up the dry cleaning.

“We want to proactively bring you the answers even before you look for them,” said Chennapragada. “It’s not [about listings on a map], but it’s about when places are busy, when are they open, and what are you likely to need when you’re there?”

Google Now does it all — now.
Google Now does it all — now.

In addition to those listings on Google Maps and the incorporation of OpenTable’s app, Google Now will provide broader details that users might want for for movie theaters and other regular destinations.

Google’s Brillo Launching Pad

Among the number of new platforms Google previewed for the 6,000 or so developers in attendance at the I/O event was the debut of the Internet of Things platform, Project Brillo.

Aimed at the growing space for developers of so-called “smart products,” and is the first formal IoT initiative that Google has taken since its bought connected home software Nest for $3.2 billion in January 2014. Brillo will be rolled out in the third quarter, while its corresponding IoT language — it’s called “Weave” and was developed by Nest — will launch in before the end of 2015.

“The first billion users of the internet came online through desktops,” said Sundar Pichai, Google’s SVP, Products. “The next billion are taking a different path to computing—coming online through mobile and smartphones—and present a unique set of opportunities and challenges. We’re working hard on ensure these people have a great experience across our products.”

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.