Google just released Google Now for iOS through an update to the Google Search app for iOS. Google maintains that the service is exactly the same as Google Now on Android, though certain flourishes like swiping upward to launch the application sadly cannot carry over to Apple’s closed iOS ecosystem.
In other words, Google Now pulls in information from all of Google’s services. So even if you’re an iPhone user, chances are you have a Gmail account, a Chrome account, a Google calendar account, etc. Google Now for iOS isn’t built into the OS the same way Siri is, but because users will already have various Google accounts, the service maintains almost all the same functionality as Google Now for Android.
There are, however, a few Google Now cards that aren’t available on iOS, including Boarding Pass, Activity Summary, Events, Zillow, Fandango, Concerts, and Nearby Events.
“The history of Search can put Google Now in the best context,” said Baris Gultekin, Director of Product Management at Google. “It’s gone from serving links to being able to serve up links, and images, and videos, and deliver a rich experience. And then we wanted to answer natural questions, both in text and in spoken word. So to us, Google Now is the next step. It is answering the question before you ever ask it.”
Google Now is a service that has been baked into Android ever since Google introduced Jelly Bean in June of 2012. It pulls information from all of your Google services, like Search, Gmail, Calendar, Maps, Chrome browser history, and anything else that is connected to your Google account, to provide pertinent information before the smartphone owner knows they need it.
So how does this work?
Well, once Google Now learns where you work, live, what you’re interested in, and what you’re searching for, it can help you with things like remembering meetings, dressing for the weather, and even keep you punctual.
Google Now knows when there’s a disruption to your train’s service or a pile-up on the highway you take to work, and tells you to leave a bit earlier that day.
If you’re traveling, Google Now helps you find things to do nearby and provides translation to keep you in the loop. As Gultekin put it so eloquently, “during travel is when our users need us most, and we want to give them the best experience possible when traveling.”
There are a whole host of “cards” that integrate with all of Google’s services to provide the most complete and detailed information to get through your day, tailored entirely to your little world.
In many ways, Google Now is an answer to Apple’s Siri along with the handful of apps that are working to offer a digital assistant-type service. Though voice navigation isn’t really part of the Google Now equation the same way it’s present in Siri, the end goals are still the same: to give you the information you need as quickly and naturally as possible.
Launching the product on iOS makes sense considering that Google tries to spread all its services across multiple platforms, rather than offering a closed Android experience for Googlers. After all, not all Gmail users own an Android phone, right?
To use and enjoy Google Now for iOS, simply head to the App Store and download/update the Google Search app.