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Google Now for iOS gains handsfree parity with Android. And it’s fast!

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Google(s goog) 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.

Google Now iOS

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.

10 Responses to “Google Now for iOS gains handsfree parity with Android. And it’s fast!”

  1. I don’t have an iPhone, but I do have the iPod Touch 5, and an iPad Air. I love Google Now. But the thing I find annoying is that, as the article says, Google has to open to use it. But I don’t get why if I just hit the home button to open another app, using the concept of multitasking, Google should still be open, therefore I should still be able to say “OK Google” and have it activate without having to multitask my way back to the actual Google app. And to make matters worse, I have an Android phone bought this year (2013) in June, and Google Now won’t even work in my phone. I have Android 4.0.3, on a Huawei phone, so I don’t know which version of Android that is, so maybe it won’t work unless I have the most updated Android OS which is really aggravating, since not all phones that use Android are made equal it seems. So I’m not arguing Apple vs. Android because it won’t work properly on either device.

  2. Perhaps I am missing something…the link in the story attached to the phrase “the company released a new version of its Google app for iOS” takes me to iTunes and an app called Google Search (not Google Now). Are they one in the same?

  3. I don’t think so. People don’t just get an android phone for the Google apps (although, I’m sure it is a factor).

    There is much more to android than Gmail/Maps/Now/etc. There is the Play Store ecosystem for one. There is also what you can do with android. Customisation, getting it to do what you want, and don’t forget the system-wide advantages over iOS that have nothing to do with Google Apps (the ones that feasibly could be used within an iPhone.

  4. Johnny A.

    One of the things I like most about Apple is they don’t have any ulterior motives. As they stated today with regard to government requests of information from them, they are not in the business of amassing information about people. Apple’s in the business of making devices and then coercing their hardware into obsolescence and therefore coercing people to upgrade their hardware every so often — but at least we know this is what Apple’s modus operandi is. With Google its not so clear (yes, they amass great deals of information about people but they also want to be like Apple with some vertically integrated hardware and control Android as much as they can despite touting with a few winks of the eye about how open source it is … yeah right, the day Android is made available on GitHub allowing people to clone and fork it is the day hell will freeze over). So if you’re A-Ok with giving Google gobs of your personal information then hell why not go for Google Now and let their algorithms think for you instead of using your own brain (i.e., Google promotes brain atrophy).

  5. I’m totally convinced that the iPhone is becoming one of the best google phones out there. It’s because google is all about their proprietary, first-party apps. What’s the best platform for proprietary apps? why, iOS.

    In more practical terms (without starting a flame war). Let’s say you have verizon and just got HOSED with the nexus 5 announcement. Maybe you are not that upset because you can still get an iphone (nexus-like experience with firmware updates), and all your google apps. It’s literally everything except ingress at this point.

    Happy, happy iphone user.