Sport & Auto
- About Future
- Digital Future
- Cookies Policy
- Terms & Conditions
- Investor Relations
- Contact Future
iPhone users rarely have any need to envy their Android-toting friends, but the introduction of Google Now certainly gave them one reason to do so. With the feature finally available on iOS with the latest update to Google Search, does it actually live up to expectations?
Google Now gathers weather, places, travel, and customized interests into neat stacks of virtual “cards.” Related entries are grouped to minimize clutter, but users can temporarily eliminate unwanted entries by swiping them off the screen, or permanently toggle off entire categories in Settings. On Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) or later, Google Now is baked into the operating system, but here the feature is confined strictly to the Google Search app. The experience looks and feels identical to Android, although Search currently doesn’t access the iOS calendar, so it can’t display upcoming events.
Otherwise, Now is search on steroids – it predicts information you’ll need based upon activity in your Google account. The feature works best for Gmail users, but it also comes in handy for web searches, presenting places as a card with real-time traffic information; tap one and Google Maps opens, ready to guide you there with turn-by-turn navigation. The update forces the Location Services icon to remain on at all times which, despite Google’s claims to the contrary, did seem to impact battery life by 10 percent or more each day in our testing. The app could also benefit from push notifications, a glaring omission that makes the Android implementation a superior experience for now.
Google Now is still a useful addition to Search, especially for travelers. We tested the app on a recent cross-country journey where it offered up nearby attractions, photos, and weather while keeping tabs on the current time back home – quite handy for calling loved ones in another time zone.
The bottom line. While it may not be as omnipresent as the Android version, Google Search with Google Now serves up a welcome variety of data with minimal input from the user. We’re just hoping that a future update will add push notifications and hopefully punish the battery a little less.
iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad running iOS 5.0 or later
Google Now is a nice complement to existing text and voice search features. Settings allow users to control which categories are shown. Does a good job of predicting which information to show.
No iOS Calendar support. Lacks push notifications found on Android version. Constant use of Location Services reduces battery life by 10 percent or more.