ORLANDO, Fla. —
Google Now is often compared with the Siri voice assistant on Apple’s mobile devices, but its power lies in giving you information you need to know before you have to ask. It works best as a supplement to Siri, rather than a replacement, now that it has expanded from Android devices to iPhones and iPads.
Both Google Now and Siri will respond to voice commands, whether it’s to look up the day’s weather or set the alarm on the phone. Google Now goes further in filling your phone screen with boxes containing stock quotes, sports results, weather, travel directions and more — all without making a request.
Those choices are based partly on your location, the entries in your calendar and the travel-confirmation messages in your Gmail account. To use Google Now, you have to give Google permission to use your personal data. You can create a separate Google account if you’re not comfortable with that, though Google Now works better the more it knows about you. It works best if you also let it record and analyze the Google searches you’ve made recently.
For the past several months, I’ve had a chance to use Google Now on Android in 13 states and in Thailand. I’ve found it particularly useful while traveling. As soon as my plane landed in Orlando, Fla., on a trip this year, Google Now offered “cards” with details on my hotel and my car rental, based on confirmation emails sent to my Gmail account. Clicking the hotel card got me turn-by-turn directions to the hotel using the Google Maps app. On the way home, Google Now gave me the gate number for my connecting flight in Charlotte, N.C., as the first plane taxied from the runway.
Now, iPhone and iPad owners can get that, too. Google Now became available on Apple devices this week. Simply download the free Google Search app through Apple’s app store.