This is going to surprise no one really, but a feature has been added to Google Now that will allow the software to suggest calendar events based off of the Emails it reads in your Gmail account. The software will monitor your Email looking for keywords that will tip it off to whether or not the message has information regarding an event. This is a reasonable feature for Google to add, and it certainly is a task a virtual personal assistant should perform. Anyone who uses Google Now already shouldn’t be too concerned about the privacy implications, as Now has been looking at your Email (and everything else) for a while, so that hasn’t changed.
Before this newest ability was added to Now it already was able to remind you of planes you had to catch and hotel reservations, offer up navigation to a place you were headed, and look at your calendar to see what was coming up and remind you of it. It did these things by scouring your conversations and interaction with other Google services to try and predict what information you would want before you needed it. Taking all that into consideration the newest feature can be seen as a next logical step. As with the other Google Now features, if this newest one is annoying to you or you don’t like it for any reason you can turn it off. Got a couple of screenshots below of the feature in action and the settings screen showing where you can toggle it off and on.
Google Now will likely continue to get more features to combat the likes of iPhone’s Siri and Windows Phone’s new “Cortana”. The virtual personal assistants are getting smarter and doing more interesting things, so this competition is pushing each of the efforts to innovate in whatever way they can. Google has the special advantage of having popular services and an ecosystem that they can leverage to gain more data about the user they are serving on the sly. However, I can’t imagine everyone is comfortable with a pair of eyes on their data all the time – even if those eyes are virtual.
Are you worried about Google looking at your data to make these kinds of suggestions? Have any features you’d like to see added to Google Now? Provide your feedback on our social media or in the comments below.