How ‘Google it’ could be redefined in the smartphone era


We may increasingly Google things without typing at all. (Alan Diaz/AP)

Here’s a look at five ideas that could impact the way we live, work and play.

1. Context as the new search. Here’s a remarkable stat — the average Android smartphone user searches the Web only 1.25 times a day from a Web browser. The future of finding information — or Googling — on smartphones may be a lot different than the traditional Web searches we conduct on PCs and laptops. This can happen thanks to the contextual data smartphones know about us, as Quartz explains: 

In contrast to the paltry number of times users of Everything.Me are searching the Web each day, they’re engaging in context-based interactions with their customized home screens dozens of times a day.

In other words, in the old days, if you wanted to do something—navigate to the restaurant where you’ve got a dinner reservation—you might open a web browser and search for its address. But in the post-search world of context—in which our devices know so much about us that they can guess our intentions—your phone is already displaying a route to that restaurant, as well as traffic conditions, and how long it will take you to get there, the moment you pull your phone out of your pocket.

2. Smartphones, antiquated in a decade? The New York Times asked a handful of innovators to predict the future. Among the interesting answers was this one from venture capitalist Marc Andreessen:

Smartphones. Instead, people will wear computers in the form of contact lenses, bracelets or clothing and “walk up to any wall and instantly have full access to all of your cloud data and services.”

3. Nokia focuses on smart cars. Via Bloomberg Businessweek: 

Nokia Oyj plans to spend $100 million backing companies that develop intelligent-car technologies, joining the likes of billionaire Elon Musk and Google Inc. in betting that future vehicles will be smarter and more connected. … “We’re seeing innovation that’s happening across the auto ecosystem through the combination of mobility and the Internet,” Paul Asel, a partner at the Nokia venture-capital arm, said in an interview. “The car is really becoming a platform like when the mobile handset became a smartphone and all the apps and services developed around that.”

4. A science-fiction economy. Just how will technology change the workforce? Andrew McAfee tells Slate:

Scenario three is that we finally transition into this science-fiction economy, where you just don’t need a lot of labor. …  I believe that in my lifetime—I’m in my mid-40s—we’re going to see that third scenario. We won’t see a zero-labor economy, but we’re going to head into a labor-light economy.

5. GDF11, a protein to care about. Via the Verge:

GDF11 is the typically unglamorous name of a protein that may hold the key to reversing — not merely delaying — the deleterious effects of aging. Back in 2005, scientists demonstrated that the blood of young mice helps older test subjects regenerate damaged muscle tissue, and now a paper from the Harvard Stem Cell Institute narrows the likely cause down to GDF11. … Amy Wagers, who contributed to the initial Stanford report, is now part of the Harvard research team behind the findings around GDF11. Mice treated with the isolated protein exhibited better cognition, endurance, and “improved function of every organ system studied so far.”

Matt McFarland is the editor of Innovations. He's always looking for the next big thing. You can find him on Twitter and Facebook.
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Matt McFarland · May 4