The basic idea behind Google Now is to present useful information before you know you’ll need it. That’s done with server-side crunching of data from your Gmail inbox, calendar, browser history, and more. Although Google has plenty of spigots from which to collect your data, many of the most popular sources are beyond the search giant’s data jurisdiction, so to speak.
The obvious solution is to let third-party apps tap into to Google Now, and that’s just what Google plans to do, reports the Next Web. Speaking to Danny Sullivan of Marketing Land at SXSW, Aparna Chennapragada, Director of Product Management for Google Now, said the company plans to release an open API in the future.
In January, the company opened Google Now to third parties, but on a limited, Android-only, 40-app basis. If the eventual API has the same capabilities granted to those services, apps that integrate will be able to serve reminders, summaries of past activities, actionable alerts, and more within Google Now. Instances of duplicate or conflicting information will be avoided, Chennapragada said, by relying on individual app usage data.
Beyond the news of a forthcoming API, Chennapragada offered a fascinating window into Google Now’s evolution. In the early days, she said, the development team simply guessed what information might be useful, but now they rely on surveys results from thousands of users. Even so, the developers aren’t beyond personal touches. One developer’s trip to Disneyland inspired support for theme park ride queue times.
Chennapragada said over the next year or so, the team will primarily focus on tailoring search to individuals. She gave the example of flight information. While applicable to plenty of travelers, people have different preferences, such as how early they like to arrive at the airport and how long a layover they’ll tolerate. The programming challenge, she said, was applying Google Now’s analytical prowess to more personal circumstances.
The new API and enhancements weren’t dated, but Chennapragada implied the updates would be delivered in the coming months.
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