Google continues to bring more parity to the Google experience between Android and iOS devices. On Tuesday, the company released a new version of its Google app for iOS and the highlights focus on Google Now thanks to these new features:
- Notifications – Get notified when it’s time to go.
- Reminders – Never forget to put out the trash.
- New cards – See tickets, boarding passes, & more.
- Handsfree voice – Just say “OK Google” to search – requires iPhone 4s or later.
I gave the updated software a quick test run on an iPhone 5s and I’m very impressed. Note that I use Google Now on my Android phones numerous times per day. I was able to voice dictate a reminder and have the iPhone surface it at the appropriate time; it even pushed the reminder to my smartwatch.
What surprises me to some extent is how quick the app is when in voice dictation mode. In a few head-to-head tests, Google Now on iOS is much faster to interpret and react to my voice commands than on both the Moto X and Nexus 5 handsets. The big downside, however, is that the Google app needs to be open on the iPhone in order to listen for commands. I’m a little spoiled by the “always listening” feature on the Moto X that enables Google Now whenever the phone is on.
Given the speed of Google Now and the improvements overall in Google services on iOS, I’m starting to think a radical thought: Could the iPhone offer the “best of both worlds” now? Combine Apple’s hardware and ecosystem with Google’s apps for iOS and even heavy-duty Google service users could certainly be happy customers.