Courtesy of USA Today
I couldn’t help but marvel at Google Now this morning when Google’s ‘predict what you’ll want next’ search feature dished up a newspaper article for me to read on my Nexus 7 tablet recounting the Mad Men episode I watched last night. Mind you, I didn’t search this morning for anything relating to Mad Men, and I don’t recall explicitly telling Google at any point that I was a devotee of the show. But I am a huge fan and was happy to have the article at my disposal.
And therein lies the power of Google Now, which debuted just 9 months ago for Google’s own Android platform, and today becomes available for the first time on the iPhone and iPad.
Based on your previous searches in Google and factoring in your location, Google Now ascertains information it thinks you’ll find relevant, timely or just plain interesting — without you having to ask first. Google Now would seem to be the next phase in the evolution of search, as Google has moved these past many years beyond just blue links on a Google search results page to mobile searches and voice searches.
On my Nexus tablet, Google Now routinely serves up the weather wherever I happen to be (or are traveling next), sports scores of my favorite teams, and my itinerary if I’m about to jet off somewhere. If you happen to be house hunting, which Google Now might detect if you’ve been searching real estate sites lately, you might receive notices of an open house in your neighborhood. You’ll get a bus timetable if you’re waiting near the bus stop. And Google Now can alert you to traffic snags on your way to work or your big first date.
The information is presented on Google Now cards that show up where and when you need them—Google has more than 25 of these cards at the moment with more promised. On Android, you swipe up from your home screen or tap the Google Search bar to get at them—and you can make adjustments if you’re receiving stuff you’d rather not get.
Indeed, Google Now isn’t perfect. For reasons unbeknownst to me since I’m not a fan of the team, I kept getting San Diego Padre ball scores until I manually corrected Google.
But that’s a quibble. I’m jazzed the feature is coming to the iPhone and iPad, as part of a Google Search app update on iOS slated to become available today. After you fetch (or update) the Google Search app from Apple’s App Store, you merely have to sign in with your Google account credentials.
Not every feature for Google Now currently available for Android will be included in the iOS release, at least for, well, right now. For example, on Android devices, Google Now can show you your boarding pass when you’re at the airport, but that’s something Apple is pushing as part of its own Passbook feature. On Android Google Now can reveal Fandango ticket information, info on concerts or nearby events, and real estate information through Zillow. You won’t see those on the iOS version of Google Now either.
It’s also too bad that Google Now “notifications” aren’t supported on the iPhone or iPad at the moment. You’ll have to keep the Google Search app open to see what Google Now thinks you’ll want to see.
But my asumption is that Google Now will get better over time, on Google’s own devices and on iOS too. As Google CEO Larry Page said on the company’s recent earnings call, “Our goal is to get you the right information at just the right time.”
Gee that doesn’t seem like too much to ask.