My big idea, and the future of Android.

I think I've realised the future of Google Now, and Android.

Here's my idea: Google Now becomes the centre of your phone.

This is a long post. But please read through. I explain the central concept quickly, and then just expand on it.

Basic Idea

Android will take inspiration from Windows Phone and BB10, but improve on it.

  • The centre of Android will no longer be homescreens, but a central hub, currently known as Google Now. As well as that, you'll have an app drawer. That's it.
  • Your search bar, your Google Now cards, your standard notifications, and your widgets now all become Google Now elements.

To summarise. Android becomes the Now Screen and the App Drawer.

Notifications/ widgets/ Google Now cards all become the same thing.

How would it work?

Imagine the Windows Phone OS. But instead of the tiled Start screen, you have Google Now. And instead of tiles which are sometimes shortcuts, and sometimes widgets, like in Windows, you have a kind of widget/notification hybrid. They only appear when they have something to tell you. And they summarise that information there for you, and let you dismiss it, or act on it.

Google Now should be a centre for your phone or tablet. A summary of everything going on around you. Messages you've received, apps that have available updates, Google Now features. Everything is integrated.

The new notifications/widgets/cards could be fed into Google Now by the full apps which prompt notifications already, like Facebook for example. But it could also be fed in by standalone extensions, which serve only that purpose, like in Dashclock.

What would Android feel like to use?

It would be a huge change. Homescreens/ widgets/ app shortcuts would all be gone. Here's a little example story to illustrate its potential.

You unlock into the Now screen. It looks a lot like Google Now does currently. You can change the background wallpaper if you like. You can see a few cards there, one tells you the weather, one tells you about your Facebook notifications, one has a ticker of recent sports scores, another reminds you of your meeting in an hour. Clicking any of these will take you into corresponding app, if it exists. If it is just a plug-in extension, it just takes you to the settings.

You decide you don't care about Facebook right now, and so you swipe that card away.

Another card tells you you have a new text message.

But you don't want to open the Messaging app just to send a quick reply, so you pull the messaging card and extend it, just like extendable smart notifications in recent android versions. Now it shows the last message, with a reply box. A bit like the Translate box that appears when you go abroad. You reply and hit send, the card disappears. You've dealt with it and it is no longer required.

The reminder card about the meeting has jogged your memory, and you realise you won't have time to buy dinner. But you can't be bothered to type. So a quick press on the Voice button, and you tell your phone to text your spouse, let them know they need to buy dinner. You're feeling a bit guilty, so you also tell your phone to remind you to buy some flowers when you pass the nearest florist. (Smart location-based reminders!)

Now you need to read that office memo before your meeting. You swipe/ press a button (I've not decided that yet) and enter the app drawer. Open whatever app you want, and do what you need to do. This works just the same.

While you're reading, your spouse texts you back. The notification appears in your status bar. So you pull down the status bar, but instead of the notification shade, you're back on the home screen! With your notification card there waiting for you.

At any point, wherever you are, simply pull down the top bar and you're back home. This gesture I sort of stole from BB10.

While you're on the Now screen, your phone buzzes, and a new notification card slides in on top. Your friend has tagged a picture of you. Pull to extend the card, and it reveals you in an inappropriate costume, doing the Harlem Shake. Long press 'likes' the photo. A single tap would open the photo in the Facebook app. Then you swipe it away, and reply to your text.

Start to see how this works?

I think this could truly be the OS of the future. Simple, elegant, and above all, really smart! And I'm sure my ideas are just the tip of the iceberg for how this could work.

So, please let me know what you think!

If you like it, I'd be really pleased if it got some attention. Maybe someday an Android developer will read it.