Apr 19 AT 8:20 AM Dustin Earley 22 Comments

What I want to see at Google I/O: Third-party developer support for Google Now

google now french

Google is relatively well know for embracing third-party developers. Where iOS forces users to stick with default browsers and email clients, use limited sharing options and keep their home screen just how Apple likes it, Google excels in handing over the keys to the kingdom. This goes for services too, where developers have been able to leverage products like Google Maps to make fantastically fast and accurate location-based software. This year at Google I/O, I’d like to see Google give third-party developers access to another one of their amazing services, Google Now. If you thought Google’s automated digital assistant of the future is impressive now, just think of the possibilities.

Released today for iOS, Osito is a Google Now clone for Apple products. It not only looks the same, but functions the same as well. You plug in some accounts, and Osito uses your location, email and calendar to bring you useful information exactly when you need it. When I first heard about Osito, I thought it seemed like a great idea, to beat Google out the door and try to establish an active user base as soon as possible. But Google is so powerful, and has so many people working on Now, there’s no way Osito could possibly keep up. And then I read something unique about Osito: it’s going to be opened up to third-party developers.

Instead of just relying on what Osito itself can offer, the app will let third-party developers have at it. As Ellis Hamburger writes in his look at Osito on The Verge, “You can imagine future integrations where Osito’s API ties in with IFTTT to text your spouse when you’ve arrived at work or send a tweet when you’re on the way home. You could set up Foursquare to ping you with recommendations when you land in a new city.”

Google’s restaurant and places ratings are great, and Google+ is one of my networks of choice, but both may not always be my first choice. I’d like to get Foursquare or Yelp cards in Google Now, because my friends use Foursquare and Yelp. When it’s one of my friends birthday’s, I’d like to be able to wish them a good day on Twitter or Facebook. I’d like to choose what service provides me with the information I see in Google Now, something that feels like right up Google’s alley.

The rate at which Google has rolled out features to Google Now has been meticulous. They’ve made sure not to push too much at once, and provided just the right amount of control to users when it comes to the appearance of cards and how frequently they’re displayed. Developers looking to utilize Google Now would have to follow strict design and notification guidelines, but that wouldn’t be a problem. If Google made Now integration easy enough, third-party services would be clamoring at the chance to put their cards, and their notifications, exactly where you need them, when you need them.

It would be like giving a steroid injection to a handful of already incredibly useful apps, pushing Google ahead of the competition even further. And that’s not even really diving in to the location-aware triggers aspect third-party developers could bring to the table. The creator of Osito, Bill Ferrell, mentioned in an interview that he set up a trigger with Osito to turn on a lava lamp when he enters his office. The possibilities there are endless.

We’re bound to see a lot of great things at Google I/O 2013, but third-party Google Now access is easily at the top of my list. The deep system integration and one-stop-shop information hub aspects of Google Now already causes me to use it more than apps that provide similar information, even when those apps provide information that’s closer to what I’m looking for. Google Now is easier, so most of the time I just don’t bother. But there are times when I have look for information elsewhere.

With third-party integration, Google Now would be all I ever need, and a whole lot more.

Dustin Earley: Tech enthusiast; avid gamer; all around jolly guy.

    Most Tweeted This Week

  • drejohnson

    This would definitely be a awesome!

    • meidindan

      Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

  • Derek

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    • http://bodacioustripk.tumblr.com emaciscool

      Using a browser isn’t the same as that browser being your default. In android, if someone texts me a link and I click on it, it will open in the browser I have set to be my default, or if I haven’t set a default, it will ask me which browser I want to use.

      iOS allows third party apps, but it doesn’t allow them to integrate into the system as well. I can’t ask siri for directions and have them come up in Google maps, for instance.

      • Nate B.

        Actually on iOS you can set another browser as your default. I own an iPhone 5 along with my Android phones. My iPhone 5 is Jailbroken & tweaked out. One tweak allows me to choose a default browser.

        • epps720

          The point is STOCK Android does this w/o jumping through any hoops

          • dcds

            Exactly. Tweak for tweak I can also install crazy ROMs and make my phone a space shuttle controller. The whole point is this system level of integration that is actually encouraged by the official API.

            It’s a world of a difference.

        • Mj

          I’m not a phone expert but when people r talk about what they can do with jail broken and rooted phones, that tells me the phone normally can’t do that.. And the average low tech user wouldn’t have access to that

  • dcds

    I don’t see why not. Google is very friendly towards 3rd party integration (reminds me of the 90s Microsoft), just look at everything.

    Just look at Dash clock widget… Roman Nurik created it, and its greatest strength is 3rd party integration. And the whole Android team is very nice and helpful… They even have online lessons and help developers with generic problems that boost our learning.

    In the general picture, I’m sure it’s just a matter of sorting out the API or some technical issue.

    Really. Google (and especially the Android team) seems to be all crazy about people adding deep value to their own products.

    Man… I do like Android… :)

    • jak

      I’ve tried other lock screen widgets that could be customized but the developer told me it is difficult to get what you want on the pure android main lock screen because it seems to get truncated. I noticed it also with the standard lick screen with the time and then can be pulled down to show other clicks. Personally u have stuff like time, battery, weather, alarm etc on my status bar so it’s always available and doesn’t take up homescreen real estat. Ive never understood Android users obsession with huge clock widgets when the time and date are easily accessible on the status bar..

      • dcds

        Me neither, but I believe time and date is merely an aesthetic thing, hence the multiple styles.

        And of course, stock Android does not have alarm, weather and what not on status bar.

  • Caleb

    I feel like this would just turn Google Now into another notification area. No thanks. There would have to be very specific parameters imposed on third parties to keep Now from becoming too cluttered.

    • NB

      Of course you could choose what features you want to enable, just like you currently can with any features already existing in Google Now, so if you feel cluttered, just turn off any unnecessary cards. On top of that, I don’t see it being a notification area anyways. The whole point of it is to suggest useful information based on your location/time/state etc… You would never see from Facebook “Susan just messaged you etc…” but you WOULD see “Travel time to meet Susan at Joe’s café 27 minutes” (Based on a facebook calendar meeting)

      • jak

        I’ve tried to get the weather off my notificationscreen even with it turned off it still appears. Apparently also if you have something in the status bar, it has to also be on the notification screen. Wish that were optional add it adds lot of clutter…. I like having things in my status bar for access all the time but don’t need it all dupliduplicated on the notification screen. Also d if you try to use a lock screen widget as your main lock screen, it only shows the top third unless you manually pull down which makes it very unuseful. Developers have confirmed it to me when their great lock screens don’t work purposely. Lastly wish you could choose a different image for lick screen vs home screen wallpaper. I used to be able to do it in Samsung but not GNex. Many times an imagethat great when seen entirely doesn’t work with icons all over because its too busy

  • jak

    Google Now doesn’t work well for me. Midst things like sports scores or package deliveries have never worked. I get weather; sometimes restaurants. Often annoying traffic info for places I’m not going to but just a place I looked up online

    • Bill

      I kinda agree with jak….I want to really like Now, but I find all it actually ever ends up doing for me is telling me the weather and draining my S3′s battery. In theory its a good idea, in practice it doesn’t do much for me.

  • Andrew Jones

    As there is already a working REST system for developers to push timeline cards to Glass – I would not be at all surprised to see something similar for Google Now – after all – it basically works the same way – but on a phone.

  • CTown

    It would be nice if it pick up “card” widgets from other apps; since it seems Google is moving away from the launcher as the main hub for your information.

  • Marx1684

    I would like the system to just allow me to control one device using another. At least for music & video. Use my phone to control the playlist on Play Music, browse through Youtube videos on my Chromebook or search the internet using my phone as a keyboard for my Google TV.

  • jroc869

    What I would love to see is, a bluetooth ear piece heavily integrated with google now. I know we have glass coming along but I would love to be able to hear turn by turn directions straight into the ear piece or hear text read back to me. Just saying they could do some great things

  • donger

    Would be interesting.

  • surethom

    What I want to see is Key Lime Pie, that lets your apps & games data to be backed up to Drive, so that when I buy another Android device all the game levels are copied to the phone/tablet so I dont have to start from level 1 again & again.

  1. This would definitely be a awesome!

    • meidindanGuest 2 years ago

      Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

  2. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    • Using a browser isn’t the same as that browser being your default. In android, if someone texts me a link and I click on it, it will open in the browser I have set to be my default, or if I haven’t set a default, it will ask me which browser I want to use.

      iOS allows third party apps, but it doesn’t allow them to integrate into the system as well. I can’t ask siri for directions and have them come up in Google maps, for instance.

      • Actually on iOS you can set another browser as your default. I own an iPhone 5 along with my Android phones. My iPhone 5 is Jailbroken & tweaked out. One tweak allows me to choose a default browser.

        • The point is STOCK Android does this w/o jumping through any hoops

          • Exactly. Tweak for tweak I can also install crazy ROMs and make my phone a space shuttle controller. The whole point is this system level of integration that is actually encouraged by the official API.

            It’s a world of a difference.

        • MjGuest 2 years ago

          I’m not a phone expert but when people r talk about what they can do with jail broken and rooted phones, that tells me the phone normally can’t do that.. And the average low tech user wouldn’t have access to that

  3. I don’t see why not. Google is very friendly towards 3rd party integration (reminds me of the 90s Microsoft), just look at everything.

    Just look at Dash clock widget… Roman Nurik created it, and its greatest strength is 3rd party integration. And the whole Android team is very nice and helpful… They even have online lessons and help developers with generic problems that boost our learning.

    In the general picture, I’m sure it’s just a matter of sorting out the API or some technical issue.

    Really. Google (and especially the Android team) seems to be all crazy about people adding deep value to their own products.

    Man… I do like Android… :)

    • jakGuest 2 years ago

      I’ve tried other lock screen widgets that could be customized but the developer told me it is difficult to get what you want on the pure android main lock screen because it seems to get truncated. I noticed it also with the standard lick screen with the time and then can be pulled down to show other clicks. Personally u have stuff like time, battery, weather, alarm etc on my status bar so it’s always available and doesn’t take up homescreen real estat. Ive never understood Android users obsession with huge clock widgets when the time and date are easily accessible on the status bar..

      • Me neither, but I believe time and date is merely an aesthetic thing, hence the multiple styles.

        And of course, stock Android does not have alarm, weather and what not on status bar.

  4. CalebGuest 2 years ago

    I feel like this would just turn Google Now into another notification area. No thanks. There would have to be very specific parameters imposed on third parties to keep Now from becoming too cluttered.

    • NBGuest 2 years ago

      Of course you could choose what features you want to enable, just like you currently can with any features already existing in Google Now, so if you feel cluttered, just turn off any unnecessary cards. On top of that, I don’t see it being a notification area anyways. The whole point of it is to suggest useful information based on your location/time/state etc… You would never see from Facebook “Susan just messaged you etc…” but you WOULD see “Travel time to meet Susan at Joe’s café 27 minutes” (Based on a facebook calendar meeting)

      • jakGuest 2 years ago

        I’ve tried to get the weather off my notificationscreen even with it turned off it still appears. Apparently also if you have something in the status bar, it has to also be on the notification screen. Wish that were optional add it adds lot of clutter…. I like having things in my status bar for access all the time but don’t need it all dupliduplicated on the notification screen. Also d if you try to use a lock screen widget as your main lock screen, it only shows the top third unless you manually pull down which makes it very unuseful. Developers have confirmed it to me when their great lock screens don’t work purposely. Lastly wish you could choose a different image for lick screen vs home screen wallpaper. I used to be able to do it in Samsung but not GNex. Many times an imagethat great when seen entirely doesn’t work with icons all over because its too busy

  5. jakGuest 2 years ago

    Google Now doesn’t work well for me. Midst things like sports scores or package deliveries have never worked. I get weather; sometimes restaurants. Often annoying traffic info for places I’m not going to but just a place I looked up online

    • BillGuest 2 years ago

      I kinda agree with jak….I want to really like Now, but I find all it actually ever ends up doing for me is telling me the weather and draining my S3′s battery. In theory its a good idea, in practice it doesn’t do much for me.

  6. Andrew JonesGuest 2 years ago

    As there is already a working REST system for developers to push timeline cards to Glass – I would not be at all surprised to see something similar for Google Now – after all – it basically works the same way – but on a phone.

  7. It would be nice if it pick up “card” widgets from other apps; since it seems Google is moving away from the launcher as the main hub for your information.

  8. Marx1684Guest 2 years ago

    I would like the system to just allow me to control one device using another. At least for music & video. Use my phone to control the playlist on Play Music, browse through Youtube videos on my Chromebook or search the internet using my phone as a keyboard for my Google TV.

  9. jroc869Guest 2 years ago

    What I would love to see is, a bluetooth ear piece heavily integrated with google now. I know we have glass coming along but I would love to be able to hear turn by turn directions straight into the ear piece or hear text read back to me. Just saying they could do some great things

  10. Would be interesting.

  11. What I want to see is Key Lime Pie, that lets your apps & games data to be backed up to Drive, so that when I buy another Android device all the game levels are copied to the phone/tablet so I dont have to start from level 1 again & again.