I own an Android smart phone. The thing only leaves my side to charge and I use it for a lot of activities. I use it as my primary Gmail viewer, checking Twitter and Facebook on the go, for news, and some internet searches. I don’t think I ever realized how closely my phone was tracking my habits. But the other day I swear it read my mind.
As part of my self proclaimed image as a Geek, a dad, and someone who maybe paid a little too much attention to the Toys’R’Us marketing campaigns in the ’80s (I don’t want to grow up…) I am an AFOL (Adult Fan of LEGO). I am a member of the local LUG (Lego User Group) and receive emails from other members on my Gmail account. On this particular day I received an email with a link to a review of the new Hobbit figures. I followed the link from the email and read the article on a news site that had some coverage of SDCC (SanDiego Comic Con). There was a brief review along with photos of the new Hobbit Lego Set and Minifigs due out later this year. Having not searched or looked at anything LEGO related in about two weeks I decided it was time to check up on some of my favorite blogs.
I scrolled to the top of the browser window to start a search, and touched the address bar. My plan was to visit one particular site first, but I couldn’t remember the URL. So I would do a search. I was going to open up Google to find it. But before I could open Google my phone browser gave me a couple of options to go to. The first one on the list… the Blog I wanted to visit. Not Google. Not LEGO.com. Not some other sites I visit on a more regular basis using my phone. But the exact blog I wanted to visit.
So my phone knows my browsing habits better than I knew them myself at the time. Apparently I have a habit of reading an email from the LUG, following a link to a news story, and then following up with a visit to this Blog to see what is new there. Not that I mind that my phone can predict where I want to go, but it was a bit of a surprise to learn how much my habits are being tracked on my phone.
I see this as all part of the shift to make technology more user friendly. Google is leading the way in applying what they are learning from their applications towards making the user experience more intuitive, natural, and quick. All just another step along the way towards the refinement of Natural User Interfaces.