In the latest version of the Google Search app, you can now use Google Now features on your iPhone -- an interesting addition for all iOS devices when only Android users running Jelly Bean (about one-third of all Android users) can use the service. To open the Google Now features, simply launch the app and swipe up from the bottom.
With Google Now, you'll get "cards" that show up based on your location, time of day, and other criteria to bring you information you might need right now. It does this by checking with all the Google services you use (like Gmail and the calendar) and then delivering the most pertinent information for where you are currently. Here at the office, Google Now displayed a card to give me the current weather here in San Francisco and another one to tell me how long it would take for me to get home with current traffic. The latter lets me touch a map to open Google Maps for the best routes to take to get home. The more I use Google Now, it should also tell me the scores for my favorite teams, public transit times, flight information, meetings in my calendar, and even currency conversion rates when I go on vacation.
In my testing, the Google Now features seemed hit-or-miss. I performed searches for my sports teams and for the current weather, but was only able to get the sports team card and not the weather. The point of Google Now is to deliver the information when I need it, but it seems to have its own idea of when I require certain information.
For all the great things Google Now can do, it has one other major drawback: it doesn't send iOS notifications. This means that the only way I have access to this information is by launching the Google Search app, which is not something I do on a daily basis.
All that said, Google Now's cards do take some getting used to. Because they're a more or less passive experience and you can't program them, they can seem a little random at times. Unavoidably, you will encounter cards that Google thinks are relevant to you, when in fact they aren't. Just the same, you'll probably find yourself wanting a particular card to show up, and it won't. Google Now is a neat feature, but you could just as easily perform a quick search to get the information you want and not have to rely on Google to tell you when you need it.
More than just search
Along with all the search features, you can access Google's apps, edit your documents, update your calenders, and all the other things that Google has to offer. In an earlier review, I didn't like how the app wouldn't let me edit spreadsheets, but I am now able to edit without incident. It still seems to have problems listing large spreadsheets, however, but if you switch to landscape it works better. Hopefully, this is something Google will address in later updates.
Still, having the power of Google Search, Google Now, the apps, and more in a single app is definitely a useful addition to anyone's iPhone. But the superfast Voice Search and the new Google Now features might be reasons enough to download this app for those who use a lot of Google's services.
Google Search for iOS review
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