Google Now makes its way onto iOS

The personal assistant is available on the Google Search app, and is now a direct competitor to Siri

Technology trends and news by Steven Loeb
April 29, 2013
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Just as it did with its Maps app, Google is once again looking to take Apple head on on its own turf. And, this time, it is going to be taking on one of Apple's most recognizable features.

Google Now, the company's answer to Apple's Siri personal assistant, is now being made available on iOS via an update to the Google Search app.

It will be available on both the iPhone and the iPad, but, unlike Google Now for Android, where it is a built in function, iOS users will have to sign into their Google account in order to use the service on their devices.

Google Now is an intelligent personal assistant which has been available on Android since it introduced Jelly Bean in June 2012. 

The way it works is that it recognizes repeated actions that a user performs on their device, such as common locations, repeated calendar appointments, and search queries, in order to display more relevant information to the user in the form of "cards".  Information is pulled from multiple Google services, including Search, Gmail, Calendar, Maps and Chrome browser history.

For example, the app can give  weather and traffic conditions before a users start their day, updates on their favorite sports teams and breaking news stories as they happen or can tell a user what the weather will be like on their way home. 

"Google Now is about giving you just the right information at just the right time. It can show you the day’s weather as you get dressed in the morning, or alert you that there’s heavy traffic between you and your butterfly-inducing date—so you’d better leave now! It can also share news updates on a story you’ve been following, remind you to leave for the airport so you can make your flight and much more. There’s no digging required: cards appear at the moment you need them most—and the more you use Google Now, the more you get out of it," Andrea Huey, Engineer at Google, wrote in a blogpost about the news Monday.

Since it is available on Android The iOS app will also be missing some cards available on the Android version, including Boarding Pass, Activity summary, Events, Zillow, Fandango, and Nearby events.

This is not the first step that Google has taken to challenge Siri on iOS. In October, Google added voice searching to its Search app for iOS. With the voice recognition features, the words appear as the users speaks them. The answers are given immediately, and are spoken out loud if the answer is short, for example is asking if a flight is on time.

The combination of Google Now's intelligent searching, along with the ability to voice search, make the Google Search app a real competitor to Siri. Although the app does not integrate with the phone the way that Siri does, and will bring up traditional Google searches, the intention is clear: give iOS users a clear alternative to their only personal assistant.

"Together, Google Now and voice search will make your day run a little smoother," Huey wrote.

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