Google Now has been one of the more talked-about Android apps of recent times. Launched alongside Android 4.1 (the original Jelly Bean), it added a whole new dimension to the mobile experience by delivering relevant information to your display without your actually asking for it. The app basically did some logical math behind the scenes, drawing conclusions from the contents of your mail, calendar, location and the like and then presented the information in the form of cards – without your asking for it. A bit like Sherlock Holmes telling you about your case without your having to detail it.
Well, now you can get the same – well, something similar to be factually accurate – on your iOS device. Google Now is baked inside the Google Search app for iOS, so go right ahead and grab all 20.3 MB of it from the App Store. Launching the Search app will show you the typical Google Search landing screen, with access to apps, voice search and Goggles, but what you need to look out for is the neat stack of cards at the bottom. Yes, this is Google Now serving up information that it feels you need.
So in my case, a card told me that Barcelona would be playing Bayern Munich later tonight (it picked up the time zone right), another told me the change in the stock prices of the companies I followed, and yet another served up the temperature in Delhi. When I stepped out for a meeting at my usual cafe, I found a card pop up, telling me how far I was from the place and about traffic conditions. You can tweak the cards by going to the settings and specifying information that you would like, although the options are limited. So you can follow a team on the sports card, but not a particular player.You cannot add a new card to those available, although you can tweak the information that you receive on them in some cases – for instance, I can choose to get information about Barcelona, but cannot ask the card to also display who is scoring goals for them.
Not all cards are visible all the time. Now restricts itself to serving up the cards that it thinks are relevant. And it does so by analysing information across different Google apps – appointments are picked up from mail and calendar, checks out your location for weather and traffic updates, and can even give you information on flights based on data in your Gmail account (we have not tried this out, as we are not travelling that far for a while), apart from serving up stock and news updates based on your specifications. And best of all – all this comes without your asking for it. There are about fifteen cards in all, and we generally got to see three to five of them at one time.
All of which is pretty neat when you consider that you just have to launch an app to get all this information – no, this is not Android, so getting cards pushed is not an option. It is not perfect by any means – we found no way of being able to follow an IPL team, for instance, and news updates seemed to come irregularly (an earthquake in the town elicited no card). But still, one cannot help but like the near magical manner in which Now serves up information. What’s more, it does not seem to affect battery life as much. It ain’t Sherlock Holmes yet, but it will do very nicely even in its current state (we are keeping our fingers crossed for improvements, that said). A must-download for all ye with iOS devices.
Available from: iTunes App Store