If you’re an iPhone user, it might be tough to see what all the fuss is about with Google Now, but that should change soon.
In the next couple of weeks, Google will update its Search app for the iPhone, including several features that Android users have been enjoying for a while. The most noteworthy changes have to do with Google Now, a virtual assistant that provides information that it thinks you might need. (Google Now’s capabilities are still growing, but a good example is how it can learn your commuting patterns over time, and alert you in advance when there’s a traffic jam.)
Previously, it was hard for iPhone and iPad users to take full advantage of Google Now, because the only way to access it was by opening the Google Search app. The updated iOS app will work with Notification Center, so you can see alerts for things like upcoming flights and packages that are due to arrive, TechCrunch reports.
Google also says that its reminders will work across platforms, unlike the iPhone’s built-in Reminders app. With the update, you’ll be able to set a reminder using Google Keep on your desktop, or create one by voice on your Android device, and Google Now will alert you at the appropriate time on your iPhone or iPad.
The iOS app is getting some cosmetic changes as well, and Google is adding new types of instant results in search. For example, you’ll be able to ask for a comparison of two things, such as butter and oil, or Venus and Mars, and you’ll see information side-by-side at the top of search results.
Google continues to support the iPhone because the platform is too big to ignore, and the company’s business model is all about keeping people connected to its services (and, ultimately, advertising). Apple has made several efforts to detach itself from Google, such as creating its own mapping service, removing the built-in YouTube app from iOS and, most recently, switching to Microsoft’s Bing for Siri’s voice search results.
Meanwhile, Google is trying to drive its hooks deeper by building a platform-within-a-platform on iOS. Many of its iPhone apps now work in tight conjunction. For instance, if you ask for directions in the Search app, it switches to the Google Maps app for turn-by-turn directions. And if you tap on a web link through the Gmail app, it can automatically open in Google’s Chrome browser. Google Now is just another way to tie everything together, and it’s clear that Google has no plans to let up.