Friday, January 3, 2014

I, for one, welcome our new Google overlords

I realise I'm pretty tardy to the party here, but lately I've been discovering all the nifty things my phone can do via its Android operating system. Why yes, I am old and busted.

Technology is too often like the music scene when you were in college, in that it is completely unknown to you unless you are deeply involved in it. Part of the reason for this is that the technology creators are utterly self-involved. Ever notice, for instance, how San Francisco-centric is Google's overall aura? Google and Apple and the like tend to operate with the same sort of thinking as Tea Partyists: "Because I think this way and the company I keep thinks this way it must mean that everyone, everywhere thinks this way."

So, if you live in the Google bubble, why would you even consider creating some sort of user's guide for your operating system or various applications? That's just a waste of paper, man. And the products are so intuitive that everybody, everywhere will somehow automatically know not just how to use them but also that they exist to be used.

So, I have my phone (Nexus 4) and it does all the things I want it to do, which is lovely, but because it is loaded with features that I wouldn't know existed unless I spent a day doing internet research -- presumably searching for things that I somehow already know should be features -- I don't really get the full benefit of the thing.

Promulgation, kids. That's what I'm talking about. Someone needs to tell me this stuff.

But then, perhaps these things are being promulgated. I have a good friend whose professional career is essentially dedicated to telling you nifty things about Apple products. He works incredibly hard and stresses himself out so much that he can't really stick around for more than one drink at a party, because all around the world there are hundreds of other people aggressively trying to to tell you nifty things about Apple products before he does. Presumably, the same sort of machine exists for Google products and I've simply not been paying attention.

So, anyhoo, today I've been paying attention to Google Keep, which is basically a way to take/organise notes to yourself on your phone and the internets. These notes can be in the form of text, audio/video, images, or a combination thereof. Apparently, there are quite a lot of apps out there that do this and there are even people who will allow themselves to get all ranty and indignant over which one is best. Which is, of course, on par with starting an argument over the "correct" way to place toilet paper on the roller.

On its own, there's nothing immensely interesting about Google Keep, but here's the part that was blowing my tiny little mind today: you can set it to give you location-based reminders.

Remember that scene in the most recent episode of Doctor Who when he told his disembodied Cyberman pal to remind him at some point to fix the phone?

"When?" asked the Cyberman head.
"I don't know," said the Doctor. "Just at some point in the future."

Because that's the way of things with taking little notes to yourself: you generally don't have in mind a specific time at which you want to be reminded of the thing. Ideally, you would be reminded at a time when it is most convenient for you to act upon the reminder. For example, if you made a note to call your Uncle Hector just to say hello, it would probably be best to be reminded of this not when you are whitewater rafting or skoodilypooping, but, perhaps, at that leisurely point of a Saturday afternoon when you would otherwise have spent an hour trying to get your pinkie toe and fourth toe (a) to move independently of one another. 

Quite frankly, I am surprised and disappointed that Cyberman technology is not advanced enough to do this sort of reminding. And I am fascinated that Google steps in that direction by making it possible to be reminded of something not at a specific time but at a specific place.

Location-based reminders allow me to identify a place in which I want to be reminded of something. So, for example, let's say I were sitting here and suddenly thought: "Crikey, next time I'm over at Uncle Hector's place I need to ask him to give me back the Anna Nicole Workout DVD I lent him a few years ago." But, of course, Uncle Hector lives in Walton-on-the-Naze, and I don't really know when I'll next have a chance to saddle up the Conestoga and travel out to see him. Setting a reminder for a specific time would do me no good.

Fortunately, Heavenly Google follows me everywhere. So, I can set Google Keep to give me a reminder when I (and my phone) are next at Uncle Hector's house. It knows where I am and it tells me things! The future is now, y'all.


(a) Also known as the piggy that had none.

1 comment:

Bethgun said...

I've come to believe that Google (the search engine) IS the how-to guide for EVERYTHING. That could explain why they feel no need to publish one.