Opinion

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Apps should make better use of knowledge of who and where we are

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Gus’ birthday party is at 3 o’clock. If you want to arrive on time you will need to leave in five minutes. That was the alert that Google Now flashed on the screen of my smartphone a few weeks ago. Let’s parse out exactly what happened here. It’s significant. Google scanned my email and found in my inbox an evite to my daughter’s friend’s birthday party. It then determined the date and time of the event and figured out the address for Gus’ parents’ home. Then, using real-time traffic data (likely sourced from Waze), it calculated that I would need about 15 minutes to reach the destination traveling at that time of day. Google, of course, already knew my home address. Nifty stuff. I also flew up to Bellingham to visit some friends over the holiday break. It’s a short hop up to Seattle from Portland and from there I was to grab a connection and continue northwards. When I landed at Sea-Tac, the first thing I got was an alert from FlightTrack with a gat...