It was one thing for Gmail to ask “did you intend to attach a document to this email?” based on your use of the word “attached” in the email. But it moves things to a whole new level when an app analyzes your digital bread crumbs and tells you stuff that you haven’t even thought about.
The services guess what you want to know based on the digital breadcrumbs you leave, like calendar entries, e-mails, social network activity and the places you take your phone. Many use outside services for things like coupons, news and traffic.
Google Now, which came to some Android phones a year ago and iPhones in April, tells you when it is time to leave for a dinner reservation. That is because it noticed an OpenTable e-mail in your Gmail in-box, knows your location from your phone’s GPS and checked Google Maps for traffic conditions.
A couple days before you travel, it will show you weather in your destination, and when you arrive, currency exchange information and the time back home. Ask aloud that Google Now remind you to pick up milk next time you step in a grocery store, and an alert will appear when you are at Safeway.