When Sergey Brin, Google’s co-founder said in 2004; ‘Ultimately I view Google as a way to augment your brain with the knowledge of the world’, I wonder if he really thought that just nine years down the line his vision would be on the verge of reality. The release of Google Now on the iPhone has pushed Google one step closer to achieving ubiquitous status, but at a potential cost to Apple; have iPhone followers been left behind by Google’s quest to become the omnipresent search engine?
The Google Now personal assistant app has been released for the iPhone, though the release has been jaded by claims the iPhone version just isn’t as good as the Android version; causing a schism betweenApple followers; the more devout and those vexed by the limitations of their version of Google Now.
Since the inception of Google, its mission has been to improve web searching. From fidelity bound algorithms to Google Instant’s immediate search, we have seen Google constantly improve the speed and quality of web searching; millisecond by millisecond; algorithm after algorithm. Google Now takes this one step further; a personalised assistant that elicits information from your Google account and search behaviour. The result being a ubiquitous system that instantly delivers the answer before you have even asked the question.
While Google Now has been available on Android systems since last summer, the recent release of the app on iPhones and iPads has been criticised. While it should pose a genuine rival to Siri, it just doesn’t seem to meet the bill. Rather than the attractive and functional automated pop-up system that graces Android systems, the iOS version is clumsily lumped onto the existing search app; requiring long-winded navigation to get to it and functionally removing the now factor of Google Now.
This clumsy footed version onto iOS really does make you think what will happen to Apple as a competitor. Google Now, in its wondrous, Godly Android form really gets inside the psyche of the user, so to speak. Through the integration of Google accounts a user has on demand access to calendar entries, directions, sports updates; live information on flights (including a reminder of when you need to leave based on real time traffic) including having boarding information at hand, the list goes on.
On an Android system the app is perpetual, Google Now never sleeps, it is always running in the background, ready to pop-up like a genie and grant a users bidding, be it by text, voice or by learning from past queries; providing a user with relevant information based on their search. On the other hand, the iOS version just lurks awkwardly around the Google search app, only delivering information once it has been exhaustingly opened and flicked up onto the screen. While solely as an app Google Now is fantastic on the Android, but it comes across as somewhat superfluous on iOS, when you think about the upcoming Google Glass and the deluge of wearable apps about to fall upon us it is Google Now that will lead the crucial passive, integrated search function that will be the only practical option on these systems.
So taking this into account, will Apple will be left behind in not giving Google Now the true potential deserves on its products? The whole point of the app is to deliver search results tailored to the users own experience at-a-glance. Cutting off Now to single app functionality means that it will never be able to fully integrate with iOS technology. While it is understandable that Apple wouldn’t want to yield to the direct competitor of its own Siri, it is clear that Google have not only surpassed Apple’s own equivalent on many of the app’s facets, but they are also paving the way for the future of search technology in the all important ubiquitous revolution.
Really, if Apple want to have a major part in the future of digital technology they will either have to give in to the pressure of Google’s competition or get cracking on immediately improving Siri to rival the full spectrum of Google’s equivalent. It may well be that the ongoing choice between an Android and an iOS device may be judged in terms of functionality rather than that of petty differences and taste; which if Google Now is to be a judge for this it would seem that Android is leading the way. Most importantly, with the arrival of so many Android powered devices heading our way soon that will benefit from Google Now, will there even be a real space in the market for Apple?
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