Google Now is available for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. That’s great news. Some Android smartphones still don’t have this cool feature, but unfortunately the iOS version isn’t as fully featured as its Android counterpart.
On Monday, Google released version 3.0 of its free Google Search app for iOS. The search app offers text-based and voice search, and it can answer some Siri-like questions such as "What is the weather forecast for New York City?"
But Google Search 3.0’s killer feature is Google Now, a location-based predictive search tool and information assistant. Based on your prior Google searches and your current location, Google Now serves up information, using algorithms, that it thinks you'll find relevant, helpful, interesting and/or timely.
Within the Google Search iOS app, Google Now displays "cards" that are essentially live widgets. The cards display the current weather, your next calendar appointment, sports updates from your favorite teams, stock quotes and more. You can customize some cards and add the sports teams you follow to the Sports card, for example. Others, such as the News Updates card, aren’t customizable. There are currently 15 Google Now card categories in the Google Search iOS app.
You don’t have to do anything to get the information except launch the Google Search app. (Unfortunately, Google Now still isn’t available for devices with Android versions older than Jelly Bean 4.1, of which there are plenty, including my Samsung Galaxy Note on AT&T.)
Google Now on iOS lacks a few cards that are available in the Android version, such as airline boarding passes and concert tickets. Apple’s Passbook app already serves those up, though.
Google Now's traffic card is particularly helpful. If you enter your office address in the Google Now settings, Google Search automatically tells you the current commute time from your home. And a related traffic widget provides driving directions. (The app knows your home address as long as you’ve signed into your Google account and saved it there.)
Flying overseas? Google Now automatically serves up flight alerts based on airline confirmation emails. After you land, Google Now pops up cards for currency conversion, language translation, nearby attractions and your home city’s current time.
Google’s motto is "don’t be evil." Still, if you want to use Google Search and Google Now, you should be comfortable with the search engine giant gathering even more info about you. As the saying goes, "If you don’t pay for the product, you are the product."