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Google Now introduces Location Aware Search

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Search giant Google has added a new feature to Google Now called Location Aware Search, that detects a user’s location and answers questions based on that data, reports Search Engine Land. For example a query like ‘How big is this lake?’ will return answers depending on which lake the user is standing next to. The feature was announced by the company at an event in Paris earlier this week.

To use the feature users need to enable Google Now to access location data. We tested this feature and it worked pretty well. It provided detailed answers to questions like “How big is this city”, “nearest rickshaw stand”, “nearest theatre” and “how far to the International Airport from here”. However, the feature failed to answer more nuanced questions like “nearest theater that’s playing Mad Max” and other such variations, instead returning search results.

The app works equally well in outdoor situations, and questions like ‘how long is this river’, ‘how tall is this monument’, ‘how big is this lake’, etc. are answered correctly depending on the user’s location. Other than location based questions the app can also answer contextual questions, for example a user could search for a movie star, then ask Google Now, ‘Where was she born”, and the app answers the question correctly. The app also answers questions based on the apps users have installed.

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Note that it’s not clear how Google is rolling out the feature as it’s currently unavailable on our OnePlus One running Android 5, but is available on our MotoX running Android 4.4 and on our MotoG running Android 5.

Other developments:

– Last month, Google updated its Maps app with local transit data for  bus and metro information in Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, New Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai and Pune, in addition to railway schedules for over 12,000 trains. The company also started testing a buy button on its search results pages for products on mobile devices around the same time.

– The same month, Google started integrating tweets into its search results on smartphones. The tweets in the mobile search results are grouped into a carousel which users can swipe through to display more tweets. Google had reportedly signed a deal with Twitter in February this year, which would give Google access to Twitter’s tweets. They also apparently had a similar deal four years ago, which ended in 2011.

– In April, Google began displaying info on Google Now cards from third party apps like RunKeeper, Jawbone, Feedly and 67 other apps. After Google started addingthird party Android apps to Google Now cards in January, it has expanded the number of apps, which now totals to 110. It is unclear how much personal information is being accessed by Google through the new feature, since Google Now can access and analyse users’ third party info too.

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