(Image courtesy of Google)
Let’s just say I was pretty excited to find out that the Google Now service is now available for iOS devices (built into the Google Search app). To give you some background info, Google Now learns your habits as result of tracking location throughout the day and keeping track of all your smartphone interactions ( like Google searches) and delivers customized information to you when you need it most.
Need to know the weather before you walk out the house in the morning? Google Now shows you a “card” with the current weather conditions. Need to get a quick recap of the news while you commute? Google Now has a card with the latest stories. There are a total of 29 cards including (but not limited to) news, travel, appointments, sports, traffic that get smarter the more you interact with your phone which, in a way, makes it a true smartphone – It knows what you want to see and gives it to you without asking.
So you can imagine I quickly downloaded the app on my iPhone 5 and zipped through the settings to get everything set up to my liking. After a couple of minutes, I quickly realized that Google Now for iOS is NOT the same as Google Now Android:
Extra steps required
As soon as you open Google Now on Android, you are presented with relevant cards based on your preferences (Accessing Google Now varies across devices). You can also use Google Now as a widget on one of your home screens for quicker access.
With Google Now for iOS, you have to open the Google Search app and then “flick” up from the bottom of the screen to view the cards. Yeah, I’m not over-extending my thumbe usage by completing one extra flick, but the whole point of Google Now is to get information NOW, and the Android version essentially does that better than iOS.
Way more functionality all rolled into one app
You can use Google Now for Android to search the web and find installed apps, compose emails and text messages, add appointments to your calendar…In other words you can essentially use Google Now for Android as the starting point for all your phone interactions.
With Google Now for iOS you can only perform web searches (no finding installed apps, adding reminders or calendar appointments)…Still need to keep Siri around for deeper iOS integration. Let’s face it, Siri is not “what’s hot in the streets” when it comes to understanding what the hell you are telling her to do.
With Google Now for iOS, you only get 22 of the 29 cards. The notable holdouts include, Fandango movie information, airline boarding passes, local events and concerts. Yeah, you could use Apple’s Passbook App for those features, but who uses that? #RealTalk
With all the superiority that Android has over iOS when it comes to Google Now,putting out a slightly sub-par service on iOS is still a good thing for Google:
“All your [data] are belong to us”
The ONE thing that
SkyNet Google wants more than anything in the whole wide-world is your data. Google Now for Android is only available for devices running OS 4.1 (Jelly Bean). With Android fragmentation, not every phone has the latest OS. So they are limited in the amount of data they can get from mobile users.
Adding Google Now to iOS gives Google more access to data. Just about everyone with an iOS device (iPhones, iPod Touch & iPads) can serve up their data on a silver platter to Google.
“Our services are better so our phones must be too?”
Since Apple and Google’s relationship is “complicated”, it’s obvious as to why Google would want to give Android every advantage it can get, without completely alienating iOS users altogether (see “all your [data] are belong to us”). So while it behooves Google to get their apps in the App Store, it’s also reasonable to make their offerings on Android better.
I love Apple hardware, but I’m in Google’s ecosystem all day long. There just may be Apple fans who love Google’s services so much that they are willing to seriously give Android a shot if it means a better experience for them overall.
All that to say Google Now is pretty dope…Way doper than Siri. While I don’t think I’m ready to ditch Apple over one app, I’m sure as hell glad I can get at least a portion of added Google functionality on my iOS device, even if that means being a little jelly (I don’t think grown men say jelly in place of jealous) of my Android counterparts.
Maybe Google Now on iOS will force Apple to stop dragging its feet with Siri if only to try and “one up” Google?
…Competition is ALWAYS good for the consumer.