Google Now Arrives on iPhone and iPad, in Mostly Complete Form
Google is bringing its most interesting mobile application to its biggest competitor’s phones. Starting today, the Google Now personal assistant application will be added to the Google Search app for iPhone and iPad.
This move was expected, but it is a loud-and-clear demonstration of Google’s and Apple’s differing mobile strategies. Where Apple would never-ever-no-way bring Siri or its other signature apps to Android, Google wants to get people using its services from wherever they are.
Of course, Google Now will still be a better experience on Android, where it is built into the latest operating system and is accessed via an upswipe motion, along with live-updating home and lockscreen widgets. Not gonna happen on an iPhone.
But iOS users will be able to use 22 of the 29 currently available Google Now “Cards” at launch. That includes proactive personalized alerts about upcoming appointments and traffic, sports scores and news alerts, and information about nearby attractions and places where people often take photos.
Nine-month-old Google Now is really only useful if you actively use the Google suite of services — Gmail, Google Calendar and especially Google Search.
It is one of the best examples of an app where people don’t just get tracked and give up personal data for no reason — they do it in order to get the benefit of a service that understands their personal context. And along with voice search, it’s an example of Google’s increasing focus on “conversational search,” where machines start acting more natural.
But Google Now is still an early product, and one that’s explicitly designed to anticipate users’ needs rather than allow them to request and configure their settings. Sometimes its suggestions are irrelevant, and sometimes it doesn’t work that well.
And, again, some of Google Now’s most advanced new features — like one that integrates searching for a movie to watch at the theater, buying a ticket on Fandango and then scanning a location-aware mobile ticket that automatically appears in the vicinity of the theater — are still only for Android. We’re told to expect upcoming new Google Now “Cards” on Android first, and then see them added to iOS later.