Google first announced its plans to bring enhanced voice search to iOS back in August, and now the company has finally made good on its word. An update to the Google Search iOS app has just gone live for all you search aficionados to tinker with.
The app’s voice search functionality will seem awfully familiar to nearly anyone whose seen Google Now in action — in short, you tap a button, ask a question, and wait for the app to provide you with an answer. That by itself doesn’t seem like anything new, but Google’s iOS voice search app (like Now before it) taps into Google’s Knowledge Graph to display handsome and informative responses.
To wit: asking Google what the weather is like in Philadelphia (short answer: not great), it popped up a neat weekly forecast that also allowed me to drill down to an hourly view, along with a spoken reply. Just like in Google Now, standard search results for that question were nestled just below that.
There are some neat graphical touches to be found here, too, not least of which is the app’s ability to display your spoken query as it tries to parse it. Naturally this sort of thing can be hit or miss, but after spending a few moments toying with the app in the noisy San Francisco bagel shop, I came away very impressed with how well it recognized my (often mush-mouthed) questions.
Fandroids shouldn’t feel too left out, though — the news comes just one day after Google officially revealed Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and a slew of improvements to Google Now along with it. In case you hadn’t yet dug into the changelog, Google Now in 4.2 can now display movie information, the status of packages in transit, and flight information to name just a few.
Most importantly though, Google Now is able to answer questions with information that isn’t culled from the company’s Knowledge Graph. Rather, the service has been updated to extract the answers to questions directly from its search results.