Google just released Google Now for iOS through an update to the Google Search app for iOS. Google maintains that the service is exactly the same as Google Now on Android, though certain flourishes like swiping upward to launch the application sadly cannot carry over to Apple’s closed iOS ecosystem.
In other words, Google Now pulls in information from all of Google’s services. So even if you’re an iPhone user, chances are you have a Gmail account, a Chrome account, a Google calendar account, etc. Google Now for iOS isn’t built into the OS the same way Siri is, but because users will already have various Google accounts, the service maintains almost all the same functionality as Google Now for Android.
There are, however, a few Google Now cards that aren’t available on iOS, including Boarding Pass, Activity Summary, Events, Zillow, Fandango, Concerts, and Nearby Events.
“The history of Search can put Google Now in the best context,” said Baris Gultekin, Director of Product Management at Google. “It’s gone from serving links to being able to serve up links, and images, and videos, and deliver a rich experience. And then we wanted to answer natural questions, both in text and in spoken word. So to us, Google Now is the next step. It is answering the question before you ever ask it.”
Google Now is a service that has been baked into Android ever since Google introduced Jelly Bean in June of 2012. It pulls information from all of your Google services, like Search, Gmail, Calendar, Maps, Chrome browser history, and anything else that is connected to your Google account, to provide pertinent information before the smartphone owner knows they need it.
So how does this work?
Well, once Google Now learns where you work, live, what you’re interested in, and what you’re searching for, it can help you with things like remembering meetings, dressing for the weather, and even keep you punctual.
Google Now knows when there’s a disruption to your train’s service or a pile-up on the highway you take to work, and tells you to leave a bit earlier that day.
If you’re traveling, Google Now helps you find things to do nearby and provides translation to keep you in the loop. As Gultekin put it so eloquently, “during travel is when our users need us most, and we want to give them the best experience possible when traveling.”
There are a whole host of “cards” that integrate with all of Google’s services to provide the most complete and detailed information to get through your day, tailored entirely to your little world.
In many ways, Google Now is an answer to Apple’s Siri along with the handful of apps that are working to offer a digital assistant-type service. Though voice navigation isn’t really part of the Google Now equation the same way it’s present in Siri, the end goals are still the same: to give you the information you need as quickly and naturally as possible.
Launching the product on iOS makes sense considering that Google tries to spread all its services across multiple platforms, rather than offering a closed Android experience for Googlers. After all, not all Gmail users own an Android phone, right?
To use and enjoy Google Now for iOS, simply head to the App Store and download/update the Google Search app.
Visit link: Google Now Launches On iOS
The app works from the Google Search app on either iPhone or iPad, and is fully opt-in (also see demo video below).
Because of the unique partitioned nature of iOS, Google Now can only be activated from within the Search app, and it must be turned on by a user, who will be prompted on launch of the updated app and must sign in to a Google account. Once you’ve given Now permission to turn itself on, it can be accessed inside the Search app only.
This is one of the differences between Now in iOS vs Now on Android, but it’s mitigated a bit by the fact that you can swipe up in the Search app to activate Now, a gesture reminiscent of the way that you bring it up on Android. But, of course, you can’t simply do it from any system-wide location on iOS.
This may limit the accessibility of Google Now on iOS, but it doesn’t limit its utility. All of the same signals are still being leveraged as they are on Android, including Gmail, calendar, location, search behavior and more. Those signals are mined to give you a contextual picture of not only what you’re doing now but what you will be doing.
That’s what Google Now Product Management Director Baris Gultekin sees as the strength of the work they’re doing. ”You’re searching with your context, and constantly searching to find anything of relevance [with Google Now],” Gultekin says.
The way that you use Google services, and how much you use them, will have a lot to do with how helpful Google Now is to you.
“As you use those products more, Google Now will have more chances of understanding what your information needs are,” Gultekin adds. “Also, as you use the product more we’ll learn what types of contents you find valuable and tune the product, it’s a nice virtuous cycle.”
Gultekin, alongside Google Maps folks Andrew Kirmse and Ben Gomes, was on the team that created Google Now originally. The feature started as a ’20% time’ project, a provision that allows Google employees to hack away on side projects on a portion of their work hours. Many mainstay Google projects like Gmail have come out of this, so it’s not too surprising to see something like Now arise from the same sense of curiosity.
Many of the Cards that Google has created for Now on Android have been ported over, with some notable exceptions. The following cards are not available on Google Now for iOS:
That still leaves more than two dozen others including the major stuff like weather, traffic, flights, hotels, appointments, packages, restaurant reservations, public transit, movie tickets, currency conversions and translation. There’s still a lot to love here.
Google Now remains a uniquely compelling experience that only Google is gathering and parsing enough data to replicate. There’s simply nothing that compares on iOS yet, including Siri. A lot of this power lies in Now’s predictive nature.
The iOS version of Now uses WiFi location only, not GPS, this will conserve battery by recognizing entrance and exits from locations of importance. This lets Now keep track of things like the route that you have to travel on your way to work in the morning, letting you know when the best time to leave would be to get there with current traffic conditions in play.
Unfortunately, at the moment, Now does not utilize push notifications on iOS at all. This means that you’re going to need to visit the Google Now app in order to get those predictive notices. Gultekin says that this is something that they’re investigating, but that they want to do it right without bombarding users with notices.
In reality, Google Now is just another permutation of Google’s expertise with search. But now, instead of waiting for you to issue a query, it’s predicting what information you need to know and when. It’s one of those things that really couldn’t have been done without this host of signals that Google has to tap into. It’s a product created out of the coalescing of smartphone and Internet connection ubiquity and large cloud stores of information that say a lot about us and our lives.
That may be daunting or even frightening to some, but the truth is that the amount of data being gathered on all of us via purchasing, email, calendar applications and information systems around the world is growing by the day. That’s going to happen whether we like it or not for the most part, and Google Now is one of the products actively looking to hook all of those together to create a powerful tool that we can use to make our lives easier.
I’ve been using Google Now for about a year on various Android devices, and I’m consistently delighted and impressed with it. In fact, it’s powerful enough for it to have become my main reason for keeping an Android device on my person. Now, it’s on iOS and in my pocket regardless of what device I’m on. Which is pretty much what Google is up to with all of its services, and I’m fine with that.
For now, the Android version of Now features enough cool conveniences for me to wait and see, but if Google ramps up this version to keep it in parity with Android then iOS users are in for a treat.
Image credit: Getty Images
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Originally posted here: Google Now comes to iOS, missing a few options but none of the utility
This is the second SXSW for location-based/social/mobile/photo app Highlight, but the company has come a long way since March 2012. Last year to market the app there were just a couple of guys — the founders — walking around Austin in Highlight t-shirts telling people about the service. This year Highlight is doing a little bit more: renting an ice cream truck and cruising around town handing out ice pops.
The whole exercise is a way to introduce people to the new features available in Highlight 1.5, which just launched a few weeks ago. The latest version of the app adds a whole lot of new ways for users to interact with each other, by checking in to events and collecting photos that are uploaded during them.
The Highlight team has been taking pics of the people it’s handing ice pops out to and then uploading them to the service, showing how easy it is to get them after they’ve been posted. Since Highlight’s photos are all tagged based on location, people who already have the app will be able to instantly see the pictures that have been taken of them.
I did a quick interview with Highlight CEO Paul Davison to learn more about the company’s plans at SXSW and new updates that they’ve made with Highlight version 1.5. Check out the video above.
Read the original post: Highlight Brings Location-Based Ice Pops To SXSW
Yammer CEO and Founder David Sacks said to me in an interview this past weekend that SXSW is showing that suddenly enterprise technology is sexy.
Sorry, I don’t buy it. The enterprise is as sexy as a humming rack of servers. That may be sexy to some, but it sure doesn’t match the allure of all the beautiful things on Zaarly or the penthouse apartment on Airbnb.
Instead, the story here at SXSW is more about the presence of people and companies who are building the new way we live and work. Social has lost its hot-air hype. More so, people are now thinking how apps can work for people to help them get their work done or see more complex data in a more accessible way.
Yesterday, I talked to Hank Laber, the founder and CEO of a company called gonna.be. The service visualizes your future plans. Add the events and it displays them on a map. Use the slider and the map changes according to what people are doing over the span of a few days or weeks ahead. It moves the idea of the calendar into a different space, beyond rows and columns and into a visual experience.
Laber showed up at our Office Hours with three forks in his pocket. I’m not sure why but it seemed to fit the character. Hungry startup CEO? He’s young and built an app that appeals most of all to his peer group. It shows your friends plans, concerts, events — you name it. But Laber wanted to ask me if gonna.be had the potential to be an enterprise app. There are potential applications, such as showing a group’s travel plans, meetings, etc. Instead of pulling up a calendar, why not look it up on a map?
Laber is the classic example of what SXSW offers the future of the enterprise. New thoughts about the way apps and data can change the way we view the world but also as tools to help get the work done.
There are lots of anecdotes about how SXSW has become a place for people to talk about the enterprise. But it is really irksome to use the term “enterprise” at all. The talk here is not about data centers, and thank goodness for that. Instead, as Pervasive CEO Mike Hoskins said to me today at lunch, the enterprise is more about data, with the apps serving as a lightweight cover. I think that nails it and sums up many of the conversations I’ve had in Austin these past few days.
As for Sacks, he has a tough job. Attaching Excel and Word files to an activity stream is not exactly sexy. But it does show how companies like Yammer have changed our perspectives about the monolithic world of the enterprise and the direction it will take as data begins to determine how well an app fares in the marketplace.
Here is the original post: The Enterprise Is Not Sexy, But It Has More Presence Here At SXSW Than Ever Before