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Google Now Seems to be Learning Contact Addresses When Traveling, Gives Time to Navigate to Them

google now friend location

A couple of weeks ago, I took a 5-day trip back to my home state of Montana to visit family and friends. I stayed with my dad, of course, but during the stay, I noticed an interesting Google Now card that kept coming up after a day or two after having been there. The card kept popping up with “Time to Dad’s,” as a reminder of how long it would take me to get back to his house. It was like the “Time to Home” card that you see if you have your home location added to your Now location settings. The card shows up if you leave home, so that you always know how long it will take to get back there no matter where you are.

I thought this card was interesting because my dad’s address wasn’t on my calendar, it isn’t in my location settings, and not once did I perform navigation on how to get to his house while I was there, because it’s in my home town of Whitefish and I know exactly how to get there. But over the last couple of days on the trip, each time I left his house, it kept telling me how to get back there, just like that “Time to Home” card. It was as if Google knew I was in Whitefish, MT, and that I was staying with my dad because his address is included in his contact card and I kept hanging out there for hours on end. It also could have been that it was simply looking through contacts to find nearby friends or family and was giving me the time it would take to get to their houses. 

At the time of seeing this card, it struck me as awesome and a bit creepy, but hey, I’ve bought into Google knowing all there is to know about me. I had forgotten about it, though, until a reader of ours pinged us over the weekend with a similar situation.

In the card above, our friend was greeted with directions to a friend’s house upon arriving in San Francisco. He explained it as a friend he would stop to see each time he made his way through SF to catch a Giants game or just say “Hi.” But on this particular trip, he had no plans to see his friend, yet Google was still showing him a card, just in case he wanted to head that way, likely because it knew he often made the trip to his friend’s house when in San Francisco.

I can’t find specific card info on Google’s Now support pages for this type of situation, so I just thought I would share. Again, it comes off a bit creepy that Google does always know where you are and locations of friends or family that you may want to visit when in the area, but I can also see how handy this would be.

Update:  Others in the comments are noticing similar cards. Some for a few months, others just now seeing it for the first time.

Has anyone else experienced a similar card?

Cheers Ben!
  • jcorf

    Yep. I’ve had this for months now. Pretty rad, even though the only contact that it has done it for lives 2 blocks down the street from me.

  • Santos Chavez

    That is crazy cool! I haven’t seen this yet, but I have seen it tell me how long it takes me to get to college even if I never told it where it was; it simply noticed I spend a lot of time at that place for hours on end. I don’t go on Fridays so it doesn’t even bring up that card on that day 🙂

  • nosedive94

    Skynet is coming online…

  • Dan

    What I am waiting for is how long it takes to figure out I’m on summer vacation (work at an elementary school). Been out over a month and it’s still telling me the time to work every weekday.

  • Dan

    Mine has been doing this for quite some time, I would say almost a year even. It’s kinda cool, but also somewhat annoying as like you almost all it tells me I know how to get there already.

  • TC Infantino

    This is actually the NSA accessing your contacts through remote control. Then Google thinks that you did the search yourself and continues to show you the info card. 😉
    The NSA- Always willing to lend a hand.

  • jarofclay77

    Shout-out from Whitefish. The smoke has cleared up here!

  • Mickey A Valentine

    I’ve gotten this card when going to work and when I had been going to school. Never mapped it, never called them. Nothing. Just started showing up for those two locations since I went to them so often. The weirdest one was a year or so ago when I was messaging my girlfriend on hangouts, talking about going to the swapmeet. Just that one mention of “swapmeet” brought up a card for directions to the nearest one. Creeped me out.

  • Phuq Obama

    Google is providing information on your travels to the White House. They are popping up cards to make you think they are being helpful but really it’s a clandestine method of gathering information on traveling Google users that the White House can catalog should they feel the need to find out where you are in case there is say a national curfew or martial law. They don’t want you sneaking off to those secret hideaways and pushing out propaganda that might be counter to their plans.

  • atc-tech

    I was on a trip to a different city lately, and I was a getting a card on time back to my hotel. I had the confirmation email for my hotel in gmail. It was giving me travel times to the hotel, what day I was supposed to check in (before I got there) and what day I was checking out (Once I had checked in). It also had a link to the email with confirmation number and reservation details.

    This was extremely helpful. I also noticed it was giving me cards with travel times to other locations last I visited the same city, 2 years ago.

  • Bruno Marangoni

    That happens every time I go to a different place, like a job interview, for example.

  • tdurden64111

    “Okay, Google Now… Navigate to Skynet.”

  • coolsilver

    Yea it’s been doing this for a while to me.

  • Lucas

    It also learns when you usually go there.

    For instance, I usually visit my sister either on saturday afternon or sunday morning. And after that, We usually go to walmart to get stuff, and it shows on weekends the ETA for both places.

    When abroad, it shows the local currency exchange rate, home time, interesting places to check and ETA for the mall I usually go.

    It is pretty awesome.

  • John Davids

    This has been happening for a long time. 6 months at least. It automatically learned the addresses of my home, my work, and 4 of my friend’s houses without any of those addresses being manually navigated to or in my address book.

  • Alec Boyle

    Every time I go back to Chicago google gives me directions to my favorite restaurant.

  • I’ve seen this card while visiting my parents in central California from the east coast. As soon as I landed, a card came up with ETA to their house. Pretty awesome stuff.

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  • Prime7

    Yeah, I have a card for my wife’s old house. I have no idea who lives there now, but I definitely did use to spend lots of time there.

  • roberto.elena

    I’ve have seen such cards for months.

  • G2

    I have seen this on my G2 for over 3-4 months now .. i had tagged the address before

  • antwonw

    I hate to burst bubbles. But I’ve had this card for well over a year now. Most people really don’t see it because they don’t put addresses with their contacts and then don’t travel “near” those contacts. But Google had had this card for about a year and a half now.

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  • TornyiBarnabásazIsten

    Google Now is off. No card games.

  • Nicholas Ruiz

    Google Now was doing this for me over a year ago

  • PoisonApple31

    Interesting, perhaps this is why I keep getting cards for places around my workplace that I don’t ever go to.

  • Higher_Ground

    seems like it could be related to google’s somewhat invasive wifi scanning. You know, the process where it silently collects wifi data even if you aren’t 1) connected to the network or 2) looking to connect to a network period. I know you can disable it, but if you don’t, it’s keeping it’s ears peeled for new wifi data. since your wifi is pretty much connected to your physical location, it would make sense to me that it would somehow mark a recurrent wifi address as a place you’re likely to visit, even if you’ve never connected to the network.

  • Grayson

    Oh, God. It looks like he’s navigating right to my apartment off Hamilton Ave. in Campbell.

  • Droid Ronin

    Good thing Walter White didn’t have this feature on his phone. Otherwise he would’ve gotten in lots of trouble with Skyler early on…even though he did eventually, but just saying…

  • chris_johns

    I mean ive always had a time to home card while at work and also a time to gym(which just updated as i moved back down to the city from westchester)…but damn is it fkn creepy sometimes…like it keeps asking me if i wanna rem how long itll take me to the pizzeria…which i think is letting me know i might be eating a lil to much pizza recently :(…not sure if i ever had a card saying someones contact name maybe ill add my parents address to their contact cards and see if it tells me their house

  • This has happened to me on numerous occasions. Whenever I am within an hour drive of a friends house I see these things. It’s great but it can get annoying.

  • anon

    I guess I’m the only paranoid one… I disabled Google now when it started learning my home and work address. Also, spoke with an employee on the advertising team at a party last week and was a quite unnerved about the amount of data G stores on people but then again maybe that’s what happens when one is old enough to remember McArthyism. Of course something like that could never happen again, right?

    • WallyIAm

      You’re not the only one a bit uncomfortable with this.

    • Warren Taylor

      Are you or have you ever been a member of the communist party?

  • Sean Lally

    Been doing it at least a year for me. Every time I go to LA I leave the airport and friends and family destinations are there on Now.

  • Shawn Spring

    I’ve had this for my dad’s place as well, and since I only go there on the weekends, it only pops up on Saturdays and Sundays. Crazy but cool (sort of)

    Also – Whitefish, Montana?

  • jonzey231

    I started seeing this in January lol.

  • Metal_Link

    I was just in Vegas for EVO 2014. I stayed for 5 days and every time I left the hotel Google Now would eventually show me a card for getting back to the hotel. I think Google just realizes when you’re away from home for even a few days and will let you know how to get back to where ever you’re staying for your vacation/business trip/etc.

    • Daistaar

      Yeah same thing for me when i visited San Francisco last month. A card would pop up guiding me back to the hotel which was awesome. Then again I loved everything about Google Now last month as it had all of my flight info ready, advised me when to leave to make it to places on time, suggested places to eat and visit, and just overall made me feel like a local.

  • Mike

    Just happened to me too, but I don’t have any address info in my contacts. It just knew that when in in a certain town, I tend to visit these places nearly every time. No address info needed…

  • I was out and camping this weekend, but on Sunday I got a card telling time to church. I have no calendar appointments but do go most Sundays… weird!

  • Tobi De la Cuz

    I’ve had this come up before but not because of the contact… but because I traveled to that place before. I was traveling from NY to NC and as I entered Maryland I was getting a card telling me how to get to this office I once visited in Baltimore for my job.

  • Chris M

    Yes I’ve had this for a long time now. My girlfriend’s location always came up and it asked me if this was an important location to remember?

  • love being in Whitefish and reading about Whitefish. Hope you enjoyed your time at home.

  • Michael Johnson

    I’ve had a card for my kids’ daycare for many months now. Google Now apparently learned that I stop by the daycare every weekday around 5:30, so when I check Google Now any weekday afternoon, I have a “Time to Daycare” card as well as my regular “Time to Home” card, but only weekday afternoons/evenings.

    • gkinsella2

      Same here…this has been going on for well over a year now. Daycare, school, etc.

  • JSo

    I’ve seen this before. I sometimes get cards for my girlfriends parents house. We go there quite a bit.

  • Daeshaun Griffiths

    i’m thinking that posssibly if my town had an “la” in front of it and somebody ask me where i’m from i could say “LA HONNNNDAAAA”
    cran grape. cran grape.

  • Peter Blanco

    I’d venture to say I’ve had this upwards for a year. With my previous girlfriend, it would always say “x amount of minutes to (her) house.”

    • Tony Spencer

      Hopefully it no longer shows THAT address!

      • Peter Blanco

        Nope, I removed it 😉

    • Daistaar

      You know if you say “call my girfriend” it’ll ask, “Who’s your girlfriend?” and let you pick someone from your contacts. You can also say “So and so is not my girlfriend” and it’ll remove that person if you guys break up. Pretty cool! Not the break up part. Sad face 🙁

      • Peter Blanco

        I didn’t know that! And thanks for your sympathy, I’m doing great though 🙂

  • dat cheese

  • WAldenIV

    SKYNET!

  • CHEESE

  • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

    Google Now is becoming a bit too loose if you ask me. I keep feeling like I need more control over how/when things show up. Like I Swipe away a game score I have almost no way of bringing it back until google feels like I need it back. As an example

    • James

      I agree. I know Google is going for ease of use with Now, so users don’t have to worry about settings. But to me the tool would be more powerful if I could set some guidelines. I know myself better than Google does (at least for now…a little scary).

    • j

      I agree, and also more control over when things DON’T come back.

      I want it to display “now showing” cards for TV, but I can swipe away the same show I DON’T WANT TO EVER WATCH over and over yet it still comes back.

      • FelisLachesis

        But Google knows about your secret crush on Vanna White, and keeps reminding you…

        • RyanAndTammy

          So it’s not just me that always gets reminders of wheel of fortune? I thought it was creepy because I watch the show now and then while I’m making dinner but I’ve never searched for it or even mentioned it on my phone or computer, that is until now.

    • Can’t you just not swipe it away?

      • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

        I don’t want to have to choose one of the other. I want more control.

        • I think that is your control. Swipe away or don’t swipe away. Swipe away means I’m not interested in this game any more.

          Sounds like you want to be able to say something like: don’t show me this game for the next hour or don’t show me this game until full time or something?

          Personally I find it easier to just scroll past the card if I know I’m going to need it again soon, but I guess we can agree to disagree. 🙂

          • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

            Yes, having a “show up again at X time” would also be helpful. I justI don’t want a bunch of cards I’m not currently interested in there. An ultimatum is not control. If I swipe the card away, I want to be able to manually bring it back if I choose. That’s control.

          • Being able to bring back old cards would be cool, agreed.

    • Don’t forget you can send feedback to the Google Now team by scrolling to the bottom, three dots menu, Help & Feedback.

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  • droidftw

    Google notifies me of the time to “Granny and Grandpa’s” house on a regular basis. The scary part of this is I have no contacts with the name Granny and Grandpa, they don’t have gmail accounts nor smart phones so Google can’t track them. I actually do call them Granny and Grandpa. I have 0 clue how they figured it out.

    • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

      It has to be in your information somewhere.

      • droidftw

        The only contact I have relating to them is “Grandparents” that has their home phone number. I guess they can do it based on area code but I added that contact after the card started showing up.

  • Jeff Lansidel

    Yes, I went to the Fox Theater in Oakland 4 times in a 6 week period in early 2014 and stayed at a friends house in Fairfield about 30 minutes away. Every time I visit that friend now the ‘card’ tells me how long it will take to get to the theater and also the amphitheater in Concord. I think it does more than just read your addresses in contacts!! Creepy but a cool feature IMO.

    • Peter Blanco

      Wouldn’t be fairfield OH, would it?

  • Me

    This is old…

  • Inquizitor

    I haven’t noticed this, but it’s pretty cool. Most of the time I often disable the traffic card because it’s completely useless for a college student. Google is so aggressive about insisting it knows where my “home” and “work” addresses are and assigns them to random buildings I visit for a class or something. Also since I mostly walk around on my own campus, the traffic info even back to my apartment isn’t very helpful either. I can see this being useful when I’m out of school though (hopefully improved by then too).

  • gbenj

    I’ve also noticed this card for at least a few years.

    I have family in Ohio and every time I get off the plane there I get a card with directions to their house…so google knows that if I’m going to Ohio thats likely where I’ll be staying.

  • Ben

    Funny, we just noticed that card this week visiting my in-laws. Their address is not in my phone, (and they recently moved) yet Google was showing us how to get there.

  • JDLaT211

    Went home for the first time in about 6 months this past weekend, and Google Now gave me directions to each of my grandparents houses, also with no prompting!

  • Charles Walker

    dat cheese

  • Pete Arado

    I go to my buddy’s house once a week, and I noticed that on that day every week, Google Now started showing “Time to Justin’s house.” I was both impressed and terrified.

    • sk102704

      Hahaha, you sure it didn’t come up as Time to Pot dealers house?

      • derk p

        my thoughts exactly. lol

      • Pete Arado

        Hahaha well now that I read that back, it does look bad. Nope, I’m in a band, and we practice once or twice a week at his house.

        • Phuq Obama

          You said you go to your buddy’s house once a week. Does your girlfriend know about this or are you doing it on the “down low”.

          • Pete Arado

            My girlfriend is cool with it – it’s my wife I need to worry about.

        • St.Stephen

          Your “band” and you guys “Practice” together. How much is an ounce of “music”, I’m always looking for a better deal and variety in “music”

  • Daniel Marchena

    Ive been getting this card for quite some time. Probably the past 2 or 3 months. The funny thing is it realized when I go to my Mom’s house in 3 or 4 week intervals and it will appears at those times, even without a calendar appointment.

    It is very helpful.