Editors' note: This review has been updated with new Google Now features and the ratings were adjusted to reflect the changes to the app.
The Google Search app brings the company's many Internet resources to your iOS device, and the recent addition of speedy Voice Search, along with today's announcement of Google Now, makes the app even better.
A familiar interface
The app offers a clean layout for searches, with the familiar Google logo on a white background as your home page when you launch the app. Across the bottom you have three buttons to access Google Apps, Voice Search, and Google Goggles, the feature that lets you snap a picture of something to find out more about it, related products, and other information.
Performing searches is where the app really shines. When you enter a word into the search field, Google Search shows the results you'd expect of Web sites that are relevant to your search term, and now automatically gives you results based on your location. If you touch a Web site link, the site shows up in a tab. If the site doesn't have what you're looking for, you can go back to your search results by simply swiping to the right to "get rid of" the Web site. Across the bottom of the search results are buttons to search Images, Places, News, Shopping, Videos, Blogs, Discussions, and Books. I really like how you can touch each to see what turns up for your search terms, and it takes almost no time to switch quickly among categories.
The new Voice Search features seem to take a page from Apple's Siri, but Voice Search uses Google's search engine to find your answers. In my testing, it is much faster. When you ask Google Search a question, the voice recognition is almost always spot-on. The app will only answer your question aloud (rather than just performing a search) when it knows the answer. But what is really striking is how fast it is compared with Siri. Ask Google Search where a good pizza place is, and it returns results almost immediately. To be fair, Siri offers a cleaner interface when it returns results, but you can't beat the speed of Google Search.
I like how Google search handles common answers as well. When I asked, "Who is Michael Jordan?" Google Search spoke a short bio about him being an NBA star, now an entrepreneur, and other details. Siri displays a nice-looking page with all of Michael Jordan's information, but doesn't say much about it. This is probably more a matter of taste, but I preferred the short spoken bio, and again, Google Search returned the information much more quickly.
Image search shows images side by side, letting you scroll through them in full-screen. The whole app feels smooth, and search results seem to come up much more quickly than before.