Google Search for iOS gets Google Now! All the great features of Android... locked in one little app

Google Search updated with weather, traffic, and sports information

Google Search has just been updated and the big news is, it now includes Google Now! Yes, the card-style informational service, which includes traffic and weather updates, as well as information about sports teams and breaking news. That means iPhone and iPad owners get a taste of the same features Android users having been enjoying in Jelly Bean for almost a year.

Voice remains one of the core elements of Google Search, and works with the new Google Now features so, when Google isn't already serving up what you want, you can simply ask for it. For example, the traffic condition update can give you information on how long your commute will be before you leave for the day.

Unlike stock Android, where Google Now is a core service, on iOS it's locked inside the Google Search app, which limits its scope and convenience. Lack of Push Notification support makes that worse than it might otherwise be.

And, of course, you have to be willing to log into your Google account and give them access to location and other forms of data. That's the price of the virtual assistant. It knows all about you. If you don't want that, you don't get that.

Thanks Eric for the tip!

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Allyson Kazmucha

Senior editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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Reader comments

Google Search for iOS gets Google Now! All the great features of Android... locked in one little app


As somebody who is hip-deep in the google ecosystem but prefers iOS to Android, this is good news. From early testing, the search and voice processing crushes Siri, but the lack of system integration hurts it. It is going to take a few days to see how useful the predictive features are and what, if any, impact on the battery they have. Looking forward to a full imore review in a week.

It's sad that Apple won't allow third-party apps to replace or otherwise seamlessly integrate with system apps. Besides the crowd that fears all things Google, I honestly don't know anyone who would stick with Siri and Apple Maps if they had the ability to fully integrate Google's full suite instead...

I just switched from Android to iOS and those are the two things that frustrate me the most. Siri doesn't do anything for me and Apple Maps sucks. I always have to switch out of Apple Maps and go back to Google.

I'm loving most of iOS, but Apple isn't making it easy to switch.

Google's voice search is faster than Siri since it doesn't poll a remote server for processing, but I personally really like Apple Maps and don't even bother keeping Google Maps on my phone anymore because I like it so much.

Is that because you live in the US and only use a car? Quick important news -- you're not the majority

I use SIRI for a lot of tasks on my phone (notes, alarms, appointments, reminders, etc. I don´t see how Google Now would help me out there. Apple Maps works fine where I live and it is what I use. It doesn´t have the transit directions so many complain about, but I live outside of the US so there wasn´t any transit directions to be lost anyhow. I actually prefer how Apple Maps works, so for me it is fundamentally better.

SIRI vs Google Now. These services are SO different. Why can´t people see that? They compare only with Web Searches and in that respect Google is superior.

My email is no longer with Google, so Google Now is even less useful.

Re: reminders et al - that is all I use Siri for as well, and that, more than the Home Button shortcut, is more what i meant by lack of system integration hurting Now.

Google Now can set reminders and alarms similar to Siri, at least in Android. Google now has a lot of neat features, but I don't think it's the gigantic thing benefit for Android that everyone makes it out to be. It is neat that it really integrates a lot of Google services, but if you don't use Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Maps, etc, it won't do much for you.

And cannot do that in iOS. That is what Siri can do and pretty well for that matter. And yes if you are out of the Google ecosystem (as I have decided to do) it's useless.

You may not know me personally, but I am not in the "fears all things Google" camp, and, even given a choice, would stick with Siri/Apple Maps. IMO, Apple Maps far outclasses Google Maps, and have had zero complaints with it. To be honest, Apple Maps knows some roads better than Google, in my usage. Roads that have a stream cutting them, that there is no bridge, so unless you have a General Lee, can not get to an address the way Google tells me to. I know other have similar experiences on Apple Maps, so it is up to the individual user.

As far as Siri vs Google Now? I view them as two different approaches. Siri is much more useful, meant to do more for you, vs Google Now being more about Search. I would love for Siri to be better on the search side. For instance, I would prefer to be able to set Siri so that she automatically searches the web if she doesn't have a hook into what I said vs asking me if I would like her to search the web. That bugs me.

And, yes, Google Now voice search is a little snappier than Siri, but I feel that is going straight to one service (Google) to do the parsing and searching vs parsing out the query and then going to the appropriate service.

It is a misconception to say Google goes to one service, one bucket. It is tying together different datasources, just as Siri is; the difference is that it performs its aggregating & dispatching earlier in the chain, so that it is transparent to the user.

True, I have no inside knowledge. I would just assume that Google Now uses Google's indexing, in concert with parsing the voice, vs a more two step process Apple does where it goes to NC, Oregon, etc, then out to Wolfram Alpha, Yelp, etc...

I think we are saying the same thing. Google is speedier due to how it is implemented, and taking advantage of a service it offers that Apple does not.

I think we are too. Google/Now goes to different sources, and aggregates them, for lack of a better term, at compile time, whereas Apple/Siri does it at request time. It's an implementation detail, really, that users should neither know nor care about.

Google's way is undeniably faster; Apple may have chosen late binding because it was the quickest way to market, or maybe Apple has future plans that need the flexibility such an approach could afford, and we (as iOS users) have just not seen that payoff quite yet.

As long as they both keep nipping at each other's heels to improve, I'm ok either way :)

If you are able and willing to jailbreak, you can get a lot more integration. I have Siri turned off, installed the new Search, then installed the NowNow tweak which allows you to launch Google Voice Search by holding the home button.

I don't think Apple fears Google, I think lots of people who don't understand how info is gathered DOES - but to be fair, if Google services could replace system services on iPhones, I think 15% would convert. The same amount of people who care on other platforms. Don't forget mom and grandma still use Internet Explorer. It has incredible use for a reason. Most people are too ... unaware, to change. Even my cousin, an intelligent woman of the same age as me couldn't install an app on her iphone because unlike users on here - she cares when it works. And that's all she cares about.

As somebody who avoids Google apps etc. at all costs, no thanks--isn't this an even more intrusive way to mine our data?!

It's actually Google's way of making all of the mined data much more useful for US, not just them.

In exchange for providing Google with marketing data, we now have the ability to use that data to make our own lives easier and more efficient. For those of us who don't live in fear of Google destroying our lives, Google Now is our reward for providing Google with all of our data over the years.

To me, it has become a fair trade. They get random data, and we get the Google Now services. Win-win.

Amateur-tip: I trust Apple more than Google and I believe there are good reasons for doing so. Feel free to disagree, Mr. Pro.

Actually, I'd say I would trust Apple about the same as I trust Google with my information (which is a lot more than I trust Facebook). I just don't feel like living in the iOS Acres gated community.

I think you have to see what the individual's motivation is as they are using you. Apple is to sell you a thing and google's is to sell you stuff and use you to sell stuff to others. There is a difference. I would say facebook is more trustworthy that Google as I don't have to use facebook at all. It is totally optional. Google search on the other hand is almost an essential service for everyone who uses the internet.

This is actually untrue. Apple uses the data just like Google; to sell advertising.
iAd, has been active and data mining since 2009, and for use by developers since it debuted in 2010. They also collect your data and relay it back to your carrier. There have been numerous articles on here about this and how to disable tracking.

Life-tip: Shouldn't trust any publicly traded company. There goal is to make money. Nothing else.

Buy the product that suits your needs best, but always be skeptical.

Read-the-comment-again-and-more-carefully-tip: Again, it's not as if I simply trust Apple completely, it's that I trust them more than google.

Does it use geofencing? I always find that kills battery. Looks good though, traffic updates/smart calendar alerts based on traffic and distance are the one thing I miss from my Nexus 7 after I switched to iPad.

It does not use geofencing, but it does appear to use location services aggressively enough to affect battery life. Exactly how much - if it is substantial and/or if it is worth the trade-off - is difficult to determine in a couple hours of use, but we can expect lots of comments/reviews in the next week or so.

Google Now was actually one of the enjoyable parts of my Android experience. All my cards are there instantly already. This is very cool.

Between you and Cult of Mac, what give with not having service on the iPhone in the photo in the ariticle? BTW I would like to know how much battery Google Now eats up on Android devices on a daily basis. The location icon is perminate on my iPhone 5 since I turned on location services for Google Search.

Just a hunch, but I would imagine they have phones they use for product testing and things of the like so all of that stuff isn't cluttering up their personal phones.

If you already have location services turned on for Search, you shouldn't notice a significant change in battery. Individual experiences will vary though.

I too saw the location icon persistently 'on' after activating Google Now stuff - as in, the icon stayed 'on' after 15-20 minutes or so, even after going to other apps and stuff. So, I deactivated the Google Now services, as I do not want the battery hit.

I laugh when I hear people complain about Google mining are data when in fact Apple is doing the exact same thing with IOS and Mac OSX and this is coming from someone that uses both before anyone decides to attack calling me Google fanboy and what not. They both do the same thing neither is less guilty.

It is pretty funny to read these comments and they act like Apple is the poster child lol.. Apple is still a major corp that only cares about making money... Its ignorant to think either company isnt doing it... I dont care if either company looks at my stuff cause I dont keep anything important on here for that reason...

I noticed that once I installed this the location icon just won't go off. It's as if its constantly accessing location services..... Anyone else experiencing this as well??

yup. lets see how much (if any?) battery drain is pulled from this. I last was in the app about 20 minutes ago, and it is still on (phone is just sitting on my desk not being used, so not any other app.)

Still at 100%, though, so could be negligible.

Part of what Google Now does (or should do, not sure how well it works on iOS) is it looks at where you are and brings up useful location based information. This may be restaurants, shows, or nearby public transit routes and departure times. This means that location services will ALWAYS be on. How much this will effect your battery is going to vary on a case by case basis. I saw little to no effect on mine, my girlfriend saw a significant change.

I saw a TON of settings. Went in and shut some things off (Calendar, since I don't use Google Calendar, Transit, since there really isn't much around me).

45 minutes since I was last in the app. iPhone 5 mostly sitting on my desk. Still 100% (on wifi). So the doing nothing test shows no noticeable impact. Out in the wild may be different, since it will be discovering more often, but that is to be expected.

Yes -- mine too. A reboot fixes, however as soon as you go into Google Search it will freeze on again. Really annoying. It seems like locations services are a key part of the Google Now experience, however, if the apps not running, I would think that location services would time out after a while like in other apps. Hopefully there's a new version to fix cuz my battery can't handle always location services always being on!

Well, I just went through all the things you can disable in Google Now on my iPhone and ended up switching off Now. I just realized that either iOS does what I need or my life is too boring for Google Now, lol.

What's with the headline "All the great features of Android... locked in one little app" except that it's not all the features of GoogleNow on Android and is stated right in the article as such. Love iMore but it's just a bit misleading and happens more often than it should.

I'm seeing the GPS arrow not turning off either, which I guess makes sense because otherwise the app can't refresh a location after 10 minutes of inactivity, thereby making the cards stale and in need of refreshing when the app is launched.

Bummer, but I guess I should have expected this had I thought about it beforehand.

The battery life hit won't be inconsequential and it won't be like it was before the app was updated, as the previous version of the app didn't need to use locations services contantly. Another app I installed before, RetailMeKnot, did this also and the battery hit was relevant. Oh well. I will be turning off location based alerts or disabling GoogleNow completely. It's not the same without the persistent alert in the notification bar anyway.

Android is just better for this type of application. That's allowed.

Not sure I can live with the location services arrow being on all the time. It is definitely making a dent in my battery life. Why can't it just refresh when I open the app?

If it can only refresh when you open the app, it defeats the purpose of pushing information to you before you know to ask for it. Of course, since it lacks push notifications on iOS, that part is missing anyways...

Super annoying! I shut off the Now feature and I'll wait for an update that addresses LS being stuck on and has notifications as well (pointless without that).

Significantly hurt my battery life and with no notifications...not so useful. I entered a few calendar entries to test things out, and there weren't even any in-app notifications letting me know my "meeting" was coming up and I needed to get there asap...I'll try it out the rest of the day, but it looks useless for me.

I use iCloud religiously, for email, calendar entries, contacts etc. for somebody who would have no use for a google account, are their alternatives like google now available for iOS? Or is there a way to sync iCloud with google?

The BEST part of this update: Now you can open the Google Maps APP from Google Search!!!! So I can use a voice search for a place and immediately start navigation. (It used to only open the web app for maps). This is something Siri can do in theory, but it rarely works. Google voice search seems to find places / popular names much better than Siri.

One less thing to miss about Android IMO.

This I exactly one of the reasons why I love my iPhone and the apple ecosystem. Although there are a lot of things which iOS is lacking features wise, or it may not receive other companies still try their darnedest to put their apps and creations onto the iOS ecosystem which only helps to improve it and further it in the long run.
"An app for that" your damn right I have one!!!

Not sure what all the hype is with Google Now. Once you use it you will see it doesn't do anything that special. Everything it does, except those pointless cards is available elsewhere in Android.
Check the weather? Type or speak weather into Google search = Same results, Calender appointments? they pop up in notification bar automatically. Directions and commute info - same results in Google maps. What it does do is Drain the crap put of your battery! and slow down the Google Search app. It probably should be implemented as a separate Launcher app or home screen function, Meaning you unlock the phone and it opens to that, if you want it. When i push Google search , I don't want or need to see all those bothersome useless cards. Yes, you can disable the ones you don't want, but even disabling all but weather and Calender and unchecking the biggest drain (Location info) in Google maps still drains your battery. Google's biggest problem is redundancy, everything Google now does Android already does with or with out it

You're obviously not that mobile with your phone. I've found GN invaluable for travelling anywhere in my car. It tracks both my home and work address from wherever I am and anytime I've run into road problems or found that I had to reroute somewhere I'm not sure about, activating GN was far more convenient for last second route changes or plan changes or a last minute need to know a location on my route than going through maps. Searching and navigating are all integrated in GN much quicker than using one to get to the other.

I am mobile with it everyday. I also know where I live, where I work and where I am at. So having Google now reminding me I am (x) miles from home is pointless. The traffic info is a guesstimate at best and far from real time. You probably don;t like Google Maps / Navigation for the same reason everyone does - It's the same app made difficult by separating it. Which is probably why they kept in one app on iOS. Besides, everything you described happens in Maps / Navigation, Google Now is not re-routing you!. Its a major battery drain on Android and on a phone that avg's 2 to 2.5 hours of actual screen on time (Galaxy Nexus) along with a drain of 5%+/- per hour while in standby, I cant afford to lose anymore Battery life. With that said, I'm sure Apple forced Google into making the app battery neutral before allowing it to be put on the app store.

If you are traveling to new addresses all the time, like visiting new customers, Now is very useful. I also like that when I receive an email with tracking information, Now automatically knows that and provides daily updates on the package tracking. Very slick on Android, very dumbed-down on iOS.

So the email popup you got with the tracking label and a link to USPS etc. wasn't enough notification? As far as the "Going to new addresses all the time" the only way Google now knows this is if you had previously input it into Google maps! Therein lies the problem, Google Now is just a Redundant information source. All Google now is giving you is a notification for info you previously input. Calender, Gmail etc. already do this. With the Google now card, you then have to re-open Maps or navigation to do anything with it. Which is another problem on Android, since they are two separate programs. The route often given is not the route you might want to take. To change this you have to be in navigation, Not Maps, and dig down into the menu. If it was a combined Maps / Navigation Like Google Maps is for iOS. the choice for alternate routes is right on the screen after you input an address. Google Now is nothing more then a redundant, Battery depleting app.

It will also pull an address from a calendar event and tell you ahead of time that you should get going based on expected travel tines, while taking into account current traffic conditions. The tracking card updates itself as new tracking scans happen so I don't have to keep hitting the tracking link and viewing on the shipping website.

As for being a single app, the choice for alternate routes is available in one click. What's the issue? Are you trying to say it's better on ios?

"Are you trying to say it's better on ios?" That's exactly what I am saying, is that unclear?
And No, Alternate routes are not One click. If you are in Navigation already, it is three clicks to see the list of three route options. the first and Two aditional. It you want to avoid highways or Tolls, that's another few clicks. If you are in maps, depending at what page you are at , it is several clicks to get back to navigation to change routes. With in maps all you can do is check or uncheck Tolls or Highways, after a few clicks and it still only gives you ONE route. Enter an address on iOS and you are immediately presented with three routes because Maps and Navigation on iOS are combined. Test it yourself.
PS the traffic is not current on Google maps and getting yet another notification of an upcoming appointment is just redundant as i have said, Calender already does this along with a link to maps if an address is present. I guess I am not as uptight about when a trinket i've ordered is going to be there. When i order something they tell you it will be there in (x) days and it always is. If it isn't an updating tracking label wont correct that, it will just tell you ( approxamately ) where it is. The only thing that will get it to you sooner is the driver delivering it. Which means it will get there when it gets there.

This is amazing on my galaxy note, it tells me everything even if i running late it knows, warns me of traffic jams and weather situations. It tells me when i wake up to take an umbrella. I dont ask one thing to google now, it knows now thats a real assistant not some half baked app assistant we see so often!