Sunday, January 11, 2015

Google Now "Contextual Photos" backgrounds in Seoul

Over at his Google Operating System blog, Alex posted about how the background image in Google Now has changed for some people from the generic-but-cute default Google pictures to pixelated cityscapes that appear to be from the user's local area.

I noticed this in my Google Now several weeks ago, but to be honest I just assumed everyone saw this same image. I sure didn't recognize it as being from the local area then. But in fact, it looks like other Korean users are being shown the same image, so it must be from Seoul.

Here's what I usually see:

My Google Now card, showing the background cityscape

Detail view of Google Now's (Seoul?) skyline image

If I had to guess, I'd say that tall building near center-right is the 63 Building (육삼 빌딩). Compare this scene with photos taken of it such as this one here and this one here. What do you think? Same scene? I can't seem to find exactly the shot that Google is using here, so anyone has any more information, let us know.

UPDATE 2015-01-12:

Wonhyo Bridge (?) background in Google Now
Well look at that, I posted yesterday and suddenly today, another image is available. This one looks to me to be the Wonhyo Bridge (원효대교). Compare the image with these photos.

UPDATE 2015-01-17:

Seongsu Bridge & Namsan Tower background in Google Now

Here is yet another that showed up yesterday. This one pretty clearly shows the Seongsu Bridge (성수대교) at foreground with the N Seoul Tower (N서울타워) on Namsan (남산) in the background. Compare Google's image with this one taken by Robert Koehler. Pretty spot-on. Incidentally, visit Robert's blog for more great photos of Korea.

At any rate, I think most of these photos are pretty... pretty ugly. The weird pixelation makes it look childish and a bit distracting. I like the sentiment behind it, but surely there are better photos they could have chosen.

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