America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilisation in between. - Oscar Wilde
SOFTWARE DEVELOPER Google has announced a range of enhancements to its voice controlled digital assistant Google Now.
In contrast to Apple's Siri, which launched in a blaze of publicity, Google Now has been slowly enhanced and has turned into something special while staying out of the limelight.
Top of the change log this time is the addition of Waze powered traffic reports, allowing the pseudo-sentient speech synthesiser to not only tell you the best route home, but proactively warn you of delays that might keep you from your sofa a little longer.
Once you have established that you are going to be late, another new addition will warn you that Pointless is about to start, and as you can't possibly miss your fix of Richard Osman, you will know to set the DVR.
Also new, you can each Google Now your "News Subject" preferences and it will alert you to interesting headlines.
The update also introduces a more natural, conversational tone to dealings with your phone, and the ability for your phone to ask for clarity where multiple options exist - all of which can be triggered with the brand new magic words "OK Google".
For the more hackingly inclined, there is another bonus. The new Google Experience launcher is buried in the code of the latest Google Now update, and by sideloading another small file called "GEL" you too can have some of the benefits that have previously been available only to Android 4.4 KitKat users.
Android seems to have been a proving ground for Google Now, but with "cards" now prominent in search results, persistent rumours of an iGoogle desktop successor, a smartwatch and of course Google Glass, we could be spending a lot more time talking to inanimate objects in 2014. µ
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