Next time you wonder, “What am I doing today?” just ask Google.
The all-knowing search engine is introducing new voice searches that let you ask questions about … you. Ask about reservations you have, purchases you’ve made, upcoming flight plans or what’s on your schedule and Google will return personalized answers.
The feature combs through your Google e-mails, calendar and Google+ account to find the relevant information. To answer a question about where you’re having lunch on Thursday, Google might look at appointments entered on your calendar for that day and for any reservation confirmations in your Gmail inbox.
Frequent travelers can get the latest information on flights and pull up their hotel information (“What’s my gate number?” and “What’s the phone number of my hotel in New York?” for example). Online shoppers can pull up all their receipts for a time period or particular store or find out the status of packages (“Show me my purchases from last month”).
People who use Google+ for their photos can ask Google to show pics from certain days or places. When you want to see all your gorgeous images of your furry pets, say “Show me all my photos of dogs.”
The voice search feature recognizes natural language, meaning you can phrase questions the same way you would for an actual personal assistant.
This is not Google’s first foray into serving up personalized results. The Google Now predictive search feature on mobile Google search apps automatically shows information it thinks you will need, before you search it. Open Google Now on a travel day and you’ll see your flight and hotel reservations, commute times to the airport, and suggested sights to see when you reach your destination.
The new questions will become available for people in the U.S. over the next few days. They will work on any desktop or mobile version of Google, but you need to be logged into your Google account. If you don’t want your personal search results to appear, you can mute the feature by toggling the globe button on top of Google. To turn it off forever, you can tweak the Private Results search settings or make sure you are logged out of your Google account when you use the search engine.
The company began testing personalized searches that pulled information from Google accounts in 2012 with a select group of people. Not all of the experimental features from that trial are becoming available to everyone — some tools like searching Google Drive files will remain in beta for now. Some of the answers will be read back to you and all will be displayed on the computer, iPhone or tablet screen.
Google has spent years indexing the entire Web, but it has also been amassing huge amounts of information about the people who use Google products like Gmail, calendars and more recently Google+. It’s now trying to do with that information what it has already done to the rest of the Internet: Make it organized and accessible.
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