Google's Now service provides you with 'the right information at just the right time' and recently launched on iOS devices.
Most users of an Android phone are unable to run Google Now because the search giant's intelligent assistant only works on the minority of devices that use the current Jelly Bean version of its mobile operating system. But there's a new, easier way to access Google Now: on an iOS device.
A recent update to Google's iOS search app introduced the free service to hundreds of millions of iPhones and iPads, providing competition for Apple's voice-based assistant, Siri. It provides users to use the 'Voice' and 'Goggles' features to easily search for audio or recognisable images, scenery or locations.
Using Google Now for either Apple or Android devices requires you to grant Google a large amount of privacy control and access to your data; how willing are you to share your life with Google?
Google Now is based on Google's analysis of your browsing history, mail, calendar and other online activities to predict the information you'll need before you actually need it. There are extensive privacy controls that let you prohibit Google from, say, extracting information from your Gmail account about packages you're expecting. But the more information you restrict, the less useful Now becomes.
I setup Google Now on both my iPad and iPhone and gave Google complete control over the cards they'd display. The app is easy to use and sits on top of the existing Google Search application. Swiping the stack of cards loads each individual item and presents you with specific information that Now concluded was information you'd like or need to know.
Based on emails received and dates in my calendar, Now was able to present me with information on a recently ordered item as well as the dates of upcoming exams whilst displaying a map of each venue of the exams along with the best route to get their from my current location. I had recently searched for restaurants in the area so Now displayed a list of restaurants and café's that are nearby.
However there are some drawbacks to the service provided by Now. Privacy is obviously a huge concern because Google needs to access all your personal data to be able to churn it into useful information that can be presented for you. When I was testing I noticed the location utility was pretty much always active although I didn't notice any sign of unusual power drain, a concern that has been voiced by some users. To determine your location Google uses mobile phone towers and known Wi-Fi hotspots to geolocate where you are, as opposed to using the iOS device's more precise but power-hungry GPS and therefore when querying Now for your location, the results can be somewhat far away!
Overall Now is a fantastic service but are the privacy implications of Google Now too much for you to justify using it? I personally find it to be very helpful, sleek and clearly designed, and, having used Google products for several years now, I trust Google to display the information I require.