Google Now: head-to-head with Siri on Apple devices

Look out Siri ..  Google Now is now available on the iPhone and iPad.

Google’s online service delivers personalized information – local weather, sports scores, flight status updates and even driving directions to upcoming meetings – based on what Google knows about a user from things like recent searches, calendar listings and email confirmations of airline reservations.

“Now” has been a popular feature of the latest Android phones since it was introduced last summer, but it only became available for Apple devices on Monday.  Some view it as a competitive challenge to Apple’s popular personal assistant, Siri.

Apple and Google, of course, are locked in a fierce rivalry for the attention of mobile device users. But market research shows that some of the most popular apps on the iPhone and iPad are made by Google, including services like Search, Maps and YouTube.

Apple has had a mixed track record in trying to match Google in this area. Apple’s Maps app was plagued by problems, while the voice-enabled Siri has charmed so many users – even if its answers to some questions can be frustrating – that some analysts view it as a potential threat to Google’s search business.

Siri isn’t really a search engine, though. It’s more of a personal assistant that can search for information by using Google as well as other online resources. Google Now, meanwhile, isn’t exactly like Siri.  Rather than talking, it mostly delivers information in “cards” on the screen of a mobile device.  It also doesn’t wait for you to ask questions.  Instead, “Now” is  what Danny Sullivan of the Search Engine Land blog calls a “predictive search” service.

If you’re an iPhone or iPad owner, it’s worth checking out Google Now. While it’s garnered a lot of praise, your results may vary, as the reviewers say. For example, while it can serve up useful information, it depends on what you’ve done with other Google services. So if you book a flight and don’t have the confirmation sent to your Gmail account, Google Now may not know about it.

Update:  In response to questions, we should mention that you can get Google Now for iOS by downloading or updating the Google Search app on your Apple device.

 

Brandon Bailey Brandon Bailey (338 Posts)

Brandon Bailey covers Google, Facebook and Yahoo for the San Jose Mercury News, reporting on the business and culture of the Internet.