Earlier today I had to cancel a dentist appointment. I looked in the file where I normally keep my contact info, but didn’t see the dentist’s phone number. So I searched for [mydentistsname cupertino] and up popped a Onebox with his business address, phone number, and a little Google map:
Then a bit later, someone asked me, “Which is bigger, a square pan that’s 8 inches on each side, or a round pan that’s 9 inches across?” I was on the computer, so I opened up a tab on the browser and typed into Google’s search box: pi*(4.5*4.5) as I’m mouthing the words “Let’s see, pi r squared, r is 9 divided by 2 so r is 4.5″. And Google says
which means that the square 8″ by 8″ pan is a little bigger at 64 square inches.
Every search engine can do some tricks like this. It’s just interesting that 5-6 years ago, I wouldn’t even think of hitting a search engine for stuff like this. 2-3 years ago, I didn’t realize what a difference it made to have all my email easily searchable. Six months ago, I didn’t know how handy it was to keep my Firefox bookmarks in sync. I suspect that in a few months, I won’t believe how handy it is to have a desktop search that lets me securely search for any webpage I’ve read in the past with just a couple keywords.
So the question is, what is waiting a few more years down the line? Maybe I won’t be able to imagine life before my documents sat in a magic Writely cloud where I could get to them from anywhere? Will cell phones evolve straight to internet-connected computers with an always-on broadband connection? Will people record their whole lives, because storage for audio and video will be so cheap?
What do you think will be the must-have gadgets in five years? What will the killer services be?