Google will soon be interrogating its users' Gmail, Google Calendar and Google+ accounts to try and predict the questions they enter into Google Search, bringing the Chocolate Factory's Now functionality into the mainstream.
The personalised search is being rolled out slowly, with the US getting it first, but it will respond to queries such as "is my flight on time" and "show my photos of sunsets" with results culled from the Google suite of applications. So, it's not much good if your photos are on Facebook and your flight details in Evernote.
But that is, of course, beside the point. The user who has bought fully into the Google cloud will benefit most, while those who insist on spreading their custom between providers won't get to enjoy the power of Google's largesse.
That power can, according to the Google Blog, answer questions such as "when is my next meeting with Sally?", "what are my plans for tomorrow?" or even ask to show "photos from my trip to Grandma's last year", assuming one can get Google's voice recognition to understand the words.
Google has been offering much of this with Google Now: the Android-based personal concierge application which has revolutionised life for some but continues to bemuse the majority.
Google Now tries to proactively provide information about travel delays and sports scores, and while it's pretty hit and miss it serves to showcase how Google sees the future.
Integrating that functionality into Search, which remains Google's killer application (the reason people come to Google in the first place), lets the search giant push its ideas about life-management to everyone.
Everyone who doesn't opt out, that is. A "private results" setting will turn off Google's attempts to personalise everything – or one could simply refrain from logging into a Google account – though that has been getting more difficult in recent years. ®