For some travellers, the smartphone is as indispensable as the suitcase. Apps are the news maps and mobile operating systems are taking over the role of boarding passes. Case in point: Wednesday's update to Google Now, Google's voice-search function, brings a few additions that the company is touting "will make holiday travel easier."
According to Mobilesyrup, the update will allow users' smartphones to automatically draw up boarding passes after checking into an airport. Google Now works based on users' search history and personal data to pull in info displayed on a series of cards. Things like commute times, sports scores and appointments show up when activated but the update now adds travel-friendly info the weather in potential travel destination, nearby attractions, currency conversions and translations, writes Baris Gultekin, Google's product management director in the official Android blog.
But for some smartphone users, Google's playing catch-up to Apple and the features offered on iOS 6, the tech giant's mobile operating system. The company's 'passbook' feature has allowed for users to bring up boarding passes, among other things, for airlines since September. According to Jaunted, Apple's 'passbook' works for 10 airlines, Air Canada being the only Canadian airline to sign up for now. Google on the other hand only has United Airlines on board for their project, though the company says support for other airlines is coming, but they're not naming names.
Passbook, on the other hand will be getting support from Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and British Airways in the coming months, reports the Australian Business Traveller.
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Predictions Just For You
Jelly Bean's <a href="http://www.google.com/landing/now/" target="_hplink">Google Now</a> feature takes location tracking to the next level. This product syncs your calendar, commute route and location data to give you appointment reminders, notify you of real-time updates to your transit route based on traffic, inform you of train and plane arrivals and delays, help you find nearby restaurants at dinnertime and more. Check out the video above to see how this super-smart feature works.
Better Voice Input
Siri, you've got some competition. The Android 4.1 system will come with a digital assistant that accepts voice input from the user and can respond using spoken words, text, search results and more. When connected to the internet, this Voice Search feature will pull data from the Google Knowledge Graph to better answer users' questions with relevant information from Google Search. When there's no Internet connection, the voice assistant will be able to transcribe spoken commands into text.
With <a href="http://developer.android.com/about/versions/jelly-bean.html" target="_hplink">expandable notifications</a>, users will be able to see even more information -- photos, snippets of text -- from apps running in the background. Users can expand or contract these robust notifications simply by pinching. For example, if your device receives an incoming call, you can pull down the drop-down menu and open that notification and see who's calling; you can also choose to answer or ignore the call -- right from the notification. If you miss a call, your notification will let you return the call or let you text the caller back.
Jelly Bean now offers better support for Hebrew and Arabic, and Google says that 18 more languages are on their way. There is even <a href="http://www.android.com/whatsnew/" target="_hplink">support offered for blind users</a> to input (and receive) Braille data via USB or Bluetooth-connected devices. There will also be a "Gesture Mode" designed to help blind users get the most out of Jelly Bean.
Easier Sharing Between Devices
Android Beam, an Ice Cream Sandwich feature, is getting some improvements in Jelly Bean. <a href="http://www.android.com/whatsnew/" target="_hplink">From Google</a>: <blockquote>With Android Beam on Jelly Bean you can now easily share your photos and videos with just a simple tap, in addition to sharing contacts, web pages, YouTube videos, directions, and apps. Just touch two NFC-enabled Android devices back-to-back, then tap to beam whatever's on the screen to your friend. Instantly pair your Android phone or tablet to Bluetooth devices like headsets or speakers that support the Simple Secure Pairing standard by just tapping them together - no more syncing or searching required.</blockquote>