April 29, 2013
Google Now App Makes iOS Inroads
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Google announced their “Know Everything About You” service called “Google Now” during last year´s I/O Developers conference. This service wrangles up your information, tailors your searches to it and then attempts to predict your future searches. For instance, it can give you traffic updates on your daily commute, list your flight information and even give you the weather forecast for wherever you´ll be in the next few days. While this app seems philosophically born for Android, Google has just released an update to their search app for iOS which brings Google Now to the iPad and iPhone.
“Today, with the launch of Google Now on iPhone and iPad, your smartphone will become even smarter,” writes Andrea Huey, a Google engineer in the introductory blog post.
“Google Now for iPhone and iPad is available as part of the updated Google Search app. Together, Google Now and voice search will make your day run a little smoother.”
Google Now uses what the search giant calls cards, or tiles displaying different types of information. According to the Verge, however, the iOS version of Google Now will not have all of the functionality of the Android version. For instance, Google is only bringing 22 out of 29 available Cards to the iPad and iPhone, leaving out boarding passes, local events and Fandango notifications. The Cards that are available to iOS include calendars, sports, traffic, weather and many more.
The information-hungry Google Now is understandably restricted in a few keys ways on iOS. Users are not able to access Google Now until they intentionally open up the Google Search app and swipe up from the bottom. The Google Search app is also restricted and cannot be selected as the default search option on iOS without a jailbreak and a little tweaking.
Additionally, Google Now will not push any notifications to iPhone users like it will on Android devices and can only access information that you intentionally feed Google. If you only use iCloud to manage your calendar, for instance, Google Now will not be able to see or use any of this information. Google Now fits well as a companion to the search app, but it becomes much more powerful if the user has bought into the Google ecosystem and entrusts a significant amount of their information to the hands of the search giant.
“In addition to the handy cards in Google Now, the Google Search app still gives you instant answers to all your questions. Try tapping the microphone and speak to your phone — you´ll get quick answers spoken back to you,” Huey said.
It´s a tight battle on iPhone between Google and Siri voice search. Though Google´s app often better understands the request, Siri has more access to the phone and can perform more actions like create calendar events or begin turn-by-turn navigation. Even though Google Now won´t have the same level of access, the pairing with Google search does make the app more convenient.
Google´s iOS version of Now is also another example of the company´s newly-found talent for creating apps that look great on Apple devices — a point which likely stings die-hard Apple fans. Nevertheless, Google Now will be a welcome addition to iPad and iPhone users who are entrenched in the Google lifestyle.