Google Now is, perhaps, one of the more compelling reasons to opt for an Android device over iOS. But, Mountain View is smart enough to realize that its big push to deliver information pre-emptively would be severely hampered if it was isolated to one platform. So, here we are, almost a year after Now debuted with the launch of Jelly Bean, and the (mis)labeled Siri competitor has finally landed on Apple's mobile OS. Obviously, to truly come to grips with a product like this, you'd need days or weeks to truly judge it, but we're familiar enough with the Android version to feel comfortable passing along our initial impressions. So head on after the break to see whether or not Google was able to replicate its virtual assistant magic on iOS.
Google Now for iOS hands-on
If you haven't yet updated the Google search app on your iPhone, do it now. We'll wait. Now that you're up to speed, we've got a bit of bad news -- not all of the cards are available on iOS. Sad, we know. Right now, there's no access to boarding passes or the monthly pedometer, but many of the marquee cards are still here. You'll still see your local weather and estimated travel times to and from your home, as well as reminders for upcoming appointments. Just like on Android, you can swipe pieces off the screen to dismiss them, or tap the "i" in the upper-right-hand corner to change the settings for that particular card.
While there are few data sources missing, in our brief time with the app, we didn't discover any that we'd consider dealbreakers. (Honestly, the nearby events card has never actually resulted in us running out to buy tickets to something.) Where Google Now for iOS falls short, though, is in its convenience. On Android, Now is just a swipe or a long-press away; on an iOS device, you need to first launch the Google search app, then swipe up from where your cards are peeking out at the bottom of the screen. You also can't simply say "Google" to launch a voice search from within Now. Worst of all, there are no alerts or notifications. That effectively removes the pre-emptive component of Now. Sure, it knows to keep the score of the Mets game handy when you open the app, but it can't proactively warn you if traffic on the way to your doctor's appointment is particularly heavy.
Still, future updates will no doubt address some of our concerns and, if you're already using the Google search app, there's no particularly compelling reason to skip on Now. It still serves up the same lightning-quick voice search, but removes a step or two when you're looking for particular information like the day's forecast. All that's left is for Google to bring Now to the web, which is expected to be announced at I/O.