Do you remember where you were the day they unveiled Facebook? No? How about Twitter? Amazon.com? Google Search?
Massive, culture-shifting technologies are almost never recognized as such when first announced. They seem unimportant and peripheral at first, but later we find ourselves relying on them every day.
One such technology was rolled out last week. In all the noise and info-clutter of CES, with its endless announcements of new netbooks, smartbooks, tablet computers, and 3-D TVs—none of which will change how people live—few noticed Google's unveiling of two related location services called "Near me now" and "Explore right here."
"Near me now" is an option that appears in a Google search if you have the right kind of phone (an iPhone or Android phone). It uses the built-in GPS to rank searches based on proximity. So, for example, if you search for "pizza," "Near me now" ranks results based on how close they are to you. Nice, but not that exciting.
"Explore me now" sounds innocent enough in Google's description: "Find out more about a place 'right here' with just a few clicks." The idea is that you can check out the street or the neighborhood to see what restaurants, coffee joints and movie theaters are nearby, and get quick access to reviews, operating hours and showtimes—that sort of thing.
No big deal, right? Wait until you hear where all this is headed.
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