This morning, I decided, entirely on a whim, to take Link light rail all the way to work.
As I stood on the platform at Capitol Hill Station, reading a book on my phone, a message popped up. It was from Google. It said: “Travel time to work: 8 minutes (via southbound I-5)”. There was a little glyph of a car next to the message.
I get unsolicited weather reports from Google constantly, but that was the first time I had ever received an unsolicited traffic report.
My first thought was: How does Google know where I work?
Of course, I immediately knew the answer: I’m carrying a smartphone with a GPS receiver in my pocket.
I wasn’t at work, though. So, not only did it know where I work, it remembered.
My next thought was: If Google knows where I work, and is able to give me travel information, why doesn’t it notice that I’m inside a light rail station? Why is it giving me driving time?
Still, I was kind of impressed. Google remembered where I work, saw where I was, and decided to tell me how long it’s going to take me to drive there. It didn’t, however, remember that I have never, ever, driven to work in all the time I have owned my smartphone. (I would have been truly impressed if it had seen that I was inside Capitol Hill Station and voluntarily told me when the next train was due.)
By the way, Google: Even if I were to drive the two miles from home to work, I wouldn’t take that convoluted detour down to the freeway, only to exit a quarter-mile later, just shave a minute off my travel time.
Google entertained me while I waited for the train to arrive.