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On April 29, 2013 the Google app for iOS received an update that added Google Now functionality to it, and after using it for a few days I can officially say that it’s a must have app for all iOS users. In fact, it may just be one of the most useful apps for iDevices, and it definitely outshines the stock Apple apps that provide similar features. I have a tumultuous relationship with Google, mainly because of my horrendous experiences with their Android based phones (they drove me into the arms of Apple), and the fact that their search engine has robbed EB of hits, but I definitely appreciate their efforts and improvements on the Google app for iOS, so I’d like to highlight some of the functions that this utility provides.

The Google Life

Apps section

If you have any ties to Google in regards to their long list of services and applications, then you will find a use for the new Google app for iOS. With a touch of a button you can access Google applications such as Gmail, Google Drive, G+, Tasks, Calendars, YouTube, and plenty others. If you don’t like using these apps in web form, the Google app also has a tab to give you shortcuts to the various Google iOS apps that can be physically installed on your iDevice such as Chrome, Maps, YouTube, and more.

If anything, the Apps section gives you one location to manage multiple Google utilities for quick and easy access. This feature is especially useful for people like me who coexist in Google land and Apple land. I can easily integrate my apps and data into a single interface, which is a great way to clear up some room on your iDevice’s home screen.

Preview of the Apps section

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Voice section

The new and improved Google app for iOS includes a voice function that allows you to ask questions to it and get answers. It functions just like Siri, and can do many things that Apple’s own AI agent can perform. The only thing it can’t do that Siri can is integrate with your calendar, contacts, and other built-in life management apps for iOS. If you still use Google’s calendar and tasks it can tell you information on upcoming appointments, but it won’t let you schedule new items.

I tested it multiple times and it is very efficient at translating voice commands into digital searches. It works really well for looking up information on the Internet, which shouldn’t be a surprise considering that Google is the God of search engines. The voice feature can also look up the weather, sports scores, and other entertainment activities.

Preview of the Voice section

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Goggles

The final piece of the Google Life suite of functions is Google Goggles. This feature allows you to take pictures of items and the app will do its best to look up the item based on its image. You can take pictures of bar codes, famous locations, consumable goods, and most inanimate objects, and the Google app will give you some background information on them. I found that this app best works in perfect lighting conditions, and on highly recognizable items. It’s still a neat feature, just one I don’t see being used too often.

Preview of Google Goggles

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Google Now

The inclusion of Google Now in the official Google app for iOS is the number one reason to download it and give it a spin. Think of it as a digital assistant who lives in your phone and informs you of nearly everything going on around you. Google Now provides cards towards the bottom of the screen that will display pertinent information depending on your location and other personal details that the app monitors. For example, let’s say you received an email with airline flight information for an upcoming trip you booked. Google Now will find that email on its own, and when the time comes to leave for your trip it will pull up your flight details automatically and place a card at the bottom of the Google app for iOS.

It does similar functions for meetings and other life management applications. Google Now can pull up the weather at your current location, it can recommend places to visit, and it can also tell you how long your commute to work will be. If you’re not into keeping a schedule, Google Now can even provide entertainment information. It can display sporting events based on your favorite teams, and it can recommend movies to see and places to eat depending on your location. Google Now and its cards essentially replace your need to remember important events in your life, and it helps to keep you in the know without direct interaction. Think of it as Big Brother, but in a helpful sense.

Preview of Google Now

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Over the past few days I’ve tried to use Google Now extensively, and I must admit that it is pretty magical. Every morning when I wake up I can instantly check my stocks, see when my favorite sports team plays next, get the weather, and get reminded of what’s on my platter. It tells me how long my drive to work will be based on current road conditions (all figured out by the app without input on my behalf), and when I change locations it will offer a list of attractions and eatery that may interest me.

Google Now is definitely self-aware, so if you’re not into being tracked this app is probably not for you. On the other hand, if you love smart technology and don’t mind exposing your phone’s information to Google, this is a great functional application that will make managing your life, and your leisure an afterthought. I highly recommend downloading the Google app for iOS if you don’t already have it installed on your iDevice. I promise that it’s abilities will make it a useful utility for managing your hectic digital life, and it will more than likely end up on your home screen because of its super powers.

If you’re reading this article on your iDevice you can download the app from this link. Trust me, I’m an Apple fan through and through, but the new and improved Google app with Now has definitely woken me up to the fact that Jobs’ company has been steadily losing its sense of innovation since he past over a year ago. You’ve been needing to take my advice and get with the Google Now program…

Google Now Tips

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Google Now for iPhone and iPad

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Tags : Google ProductsiDeviceiOS Apps
Matt Heywood

The author Matt Heywood

Matt Heywood is the founder and EIC of EntertainmentBuddha.com where he strives to make you a better geek, one post at a time! When he's not scouring the Internet for interesting nuggets of awesomeness he can be found in his secret lair enjoying the latest and greatest video games, taking pictures of toys, or talking Star Wars on EB's Star Wars Time podcast show.