I question, though, if Now will turn out to be as meaningful to most people as Google thinks it will be. In other words, how many people actually want a personal digital assistant? There is an alternative view of computers in which they are more akin to a tool, something you pick up and use to do a job, and then set down when you are done with it. To be sure, that tool is incredibly powerful and capable of doing a great number of jobs, but it still operates in service of something outside of computers.
That’s such a huge question, because as Thompson notes it is a big departure from what Siri is doing. It’s: I know what you want, versus I can answer that for you.
Or, to pull in Star Trek: The Next Generation, it’s Picard walking up to the Replicator and the computer just spitting our some Earl Grey (even though it is the most predictable thing ever the computer never did this), instead (like with Siri) Picard asked for what he wanted and then got it..
In fact, the entire advanced computing system on TNG centered around the idea that the computer knew everything very quickly, but never offered that information — you had to ask. Google sees that as a fundamental problem that needs solving, and Apple seems to see that as the goal.