Google Now on iOS is a fantastic move

by: Nate SwannerApril 29, 2013


As Android users, we’re pretty spoiled. Android has a whole lot to offer, and we certainly like to point fingers at our iOS friends as being left behind a bit. No widgets, no custom ROM’s… heck, not even NFC! Sometimes we wonder why they even like their iStuff.

Perhaps the most glaring issue is the lack of many Google services on iOS. Sure, the other stuff is cool, but let’s be honest in that Google is what makes the mobile world go ‘round. Those iOS users compromise a giant chunk of the mobile market, so it has always been curious that more Google services weren’t available to them.

Then again, Apple has always been diligent about forging their own path. There was Apple Maps, which was just… well, you know. That led the way for an apology, a firing, and Google Maps to make a triumphant comeback. With 10 million downloads the first weekend it was back in the App Store, a Google Maps victory must have hit close to home in Cupertino.

There could be a number of issues at play, here. It could be the leadership change from Jobs to Cook, and a softening on the relationship Apple shared with Google. It may also be a gut-check realization that Google products are just better than anything Apple can make right now. A lot of time and effort goes into an app, or service, and Apple simply doesn’t have that type of focus. They’re more hardware-centric, whereas Google butters its bread on the other side.

[quote qtext=”Many comparisons have been done between Siri and Google Now, with Google Now edging out its iOS competitor each time.” qperson=”” qsource=”” qposition=”left”]

There is no shame in admitting a competitor simply has a better product, or can do what you cannot. Apple seems to be realizing this more and more, which shows rare (and welcome) humility. Today, Google Now becomes available for iOS. Though not the full spectrum of awesome, it is a concession by Apple that Google is to search as it was to their maps service: just plain better.

Those iOS users won’t get the full functionality of Google Now, as it’s not exactly as we enjoy it on Android devices. Certain features just aren’t available, and the service must be launched inside of the Google Search app, rather than from the home screen. Part of that is iOS devices having a different interface and layout, and part of that is Apple playing it safe. As Google Now becomes available on iOS, even in a limited capacity, it’s another step in the right direction.

Even though Google has to continually play slow-pitch softball to iOS users, at least they’re in the game. We can point fingers at Apple for being closed-off and too cautious all we want, but they have a pretty significant market share, and that means happy users. More people using the Google services we’ve grown to rely on is a wonderful thing, as it deepens their involvement with the mothership. As that relationship grows, two things may happen… both great for Google.


The iOS user becomes a Google fan

Apple fans are loyal to the brand. We should respect that, but understand that they also haven’t seen all the goodness Google has to offer. Maps is a no-brainer, but Google Now has much more intrinsic value. Those who have it, and use it… love it. Ask it questions, and get the results you’re looking for.[quote qtext=”Siri may be able to give you snappy responses to silly questions, just as Bing will give you cute pics when compared to Google for desktop search, but results are what people care about.” qperson=”” qsource=”” qposition=”right”]

That, my friends, is where the subversive brilliance lies in getting Google Now onto iOS. Many comparisons have been done between Siri and Google Now, with Google Now edging out its iOS competitor each time. Siri may be able to give you snappy responses to silly questions, just as Bing will give you cute pics when compared to Google for desktop search, but results are what people care about. Google Now has that battle handily won, and should iOS users compare the two… they might just be pleasantly surprised with Google Now.


The iOS user becomes an Android fan

Limited functionality sounds like a pain in the ass, but it could be good for Android. Mobile devices are, essentially, cloud computing devices. If you’re looking for the best suite of cloud computing solutions, Google/Android has you covered. Everything from Drive to Maps are meant to operate in the cloud, and do so famously. They sync well across devices, and across platforms. Search for a destination in Google Maps, and directions show up in Google Now.

If an iOS user gets a glimpse of that with Google Now, it’s reasonable to think they’d be interested in Android. The more those iOS fans use Google services, the more they become enamored with the functionality. They’ll know what they see on their iPhones and iPads is a shell of what is really on offer. As much as we like to poke fun at them, iOS users aren’t stupid… they’ll see what’s going on.

Using Google Now makes life much easier, which is the real goal. Android takes the best advantage of that service, so why not switch? I’m not advocating that Google Now will, in itself, become a reason for iOS users to jump ship, but it’s a door opening in front of them. It has the ability to get them interested in what else Google and Android have on offer, and just how well it all works together. Their opinions of Android may have been forged in a bygone era of cupcake and gingerbread… and Google Now will show them just how much little brother has grown up.



Google Now has the ability to do what the Chrome Browser has done, and that’s provide a cross-platform solution… without a platform. Google Now is a search function, not an Android service. It may be a whole lot better on Android, but not exclusive to the platform. As iOS users start to see that, they’ll also start to understand the value of what Google is doing.

Even if those iOS users never switch to Android, they’ve at least become Google users… and hopefully fans. This is good for the bottom line, as search is what it all boils down to at Google. The one thing we talk about the least is the most important for them, and Google Now represents a huge shift to how that’s accomplished. Improved search results, as well as increased use, translates to ad revenue… which is how all of our beloved Google services remain free.

As search enters the realm of contextual data (data which is fed to you rather than a traditional search for it), Google is at the forefront. Google Now, even in its limited capacity on iOS, is far and away the best solution for accomplishing this. Even though Google may not need iOS, those users may need Google moving forward… more than they know.


  • Good points. It’s sort of saying “here’s some of what you’re missing.”

    • gab_gagnon

      Don’t think so! iOS users will just say “Eh, got everything Google on iOS PLUS my iOS, why change? Best of both worlds!”

  • Mike Bastable

    Is this suddenly GoogleAuthority? I thought we discussed Android here.
    For a better take on this development read this excellent article:

    A more reasoned view than Nate’s Google fan letter.

    • APai

      his take on gizmodo is stupid. apple’s iphone is NOT the best android phone right now. iphone sucks goatballs in many departments and it stays that way , even with the addition of google now. sorry to break your reverie. that article on gizmodo is the one that sucks

      • Mike Bastable

        agree to disagree methinks, i actually meant that Giz tried to follow the thought process behind Googles move, and its consequences for both OS….whilst the garbage above is fanboy rubbish kissing up to Google….he obviously wants an early review unit of the x phone or something……

    • hmmmmmmmmmm lets see a website called android authority writing an article about google and what its doing??? so strange i mean its not like google created android or introduced google now thru android. so clearly this piece about the not creator of android moving its previously not android exclusive feature over to its not biggest rival is completely out of place here.(NOT!!!)

      • Mike Bastable

        what i tried to point out was that this was purely adressing Google and NOt Android, it offered no insights just vague ideas of iOS users ditching their $600 iphones under the influence of Google now….silly.
        Google SELLS advertising
        Google develops Android for OEMS to SELL phones
        Google MAKES money from Advertising
        Google makes little or NO money on Android.

        The true point of NOW on iOS is to push more Google content to Apple users, tied to the iOS ecosystem, NOt to convert, to suggest otherwise is silly. google has itself stated often that they prefer more ecosystems existing side by side…all of which they will support.
        Remember TV ads are on all makes of TV, not just on Sony or LG TV.

        Android is a means to generate advertising revenue, very well with a GREAT product!!!, iOS is designed to get people into the Apple ecosystem and keep them there! and thus generate revenue.
        Apple sells product (itunes, MACS,iPhones etc) Google ads, with Nexus as loss leading products (just like the supermarkets) to get you online and clicking links and getting them revenue.

        • Talk about your average iSheep there!

          • Mike Bastable

            I only own Android having recently switched from IOS and from macs….
            Is that all i prompted you to think off? Sheep? I was trying to dig deeper into the issues and have a reasoned discussion with my android authority peers.
            I hoped for better replies, give us the Malaysian views here….europe is iOS dominated, all my mates have iphones….so it would be cool if u didnt just kick me for not saying Android is super!, and instead give a reply as to why you disagree.
            I own the xperia Z and i love Droid.

        • Cole Raney

          You are really wrong about a fee things. One, apple says they run iTunes really close to break even. ITunes is just meant to be a selling point for their devices. Second, Google doesn’t make money from companies choosing to use android, but neither does apple, because apple doesn’t even let others use iOS. Where both Apple and Google make money from their operating systems is in their appstores. And Apple makes money of the device itself, but the appstore is how Apple makes a profit off the software.

          • Mike Bastable

            cole!…..Apple makes loads from iTunes, just look at their financials…break even? Apple? I dont think so, lol.
            Profitabilty that Apple has is every companies dream. Hardware and software generate dollars. This stuff is widely reported every quarter as Apple publishes its results.

  • So why cant they bring this to Gingerbread?

    • Mike Bastable

      good questions…..doing so wont sell new android handsets and will upset their OEM partners i think

    • Daniel Mai

      The reason is because Google doesn’t its android users to stay on Gingerbread. They want you to update to Jellybean devices. If they brought Google Now to gingerbread then people will keep on using it. Its unfortunate, but that’s the thinking.

  • Daniel Mai

    Sure they will understand the value of Google services, but I think most, if not all won’t jump on the Android bandwagon, in fact, it gives them another reason to stay on iOS. They’ll think, why would I have to switch, I got everything I have on iOS. Switching to android will give incremental benefits to them.

    • Agree. The move from Google to introduce GNow to the iOS platform is just a way of saying “There are other alternatives that you can try apart from Siri, if you would prefer..but there are limitations, in which we can’t avoid due to the nature of the iOS being a closed-source platform”.

      We may (or may not) see an influx of iOS users to Android, but not because of GNow, but Android in general. It’s all about marketability and user experience. :)

    • John Linden

      I have to agree, too. Most users are simple-minded and do not think with complexity. They most likely just to think “Well, I get all the Google stuff on iOS so why switch to an Android?”

  • prashant krishna shrestha

    “Those iOS users won’t get the full Those iOS users won’t get the full functionality of Google Now, as it’s not exactly as we enjoy it on Android devices., as it’s not exactly as we enjoy it on Android devices.”

    Even we Android user are not getting full full functionality of Google Now …… the world doesn’t consist just Europe and America ……..

  • prashant krishna shrestha

    i think Google launched Google Now for iOS in the verge launching something new in
    Google I/O 13 and be exclusive t o Android till next Google I/O …………… so that iOS user can see what they will miss …… ;)

  • nishantsirohi123

    Cant this be a part of at least android ICS devices…most users do not root their droids

  • gab_gagnon

    Google offers Google Now to 95% of iOS devices while only 25% of us can use Google Now. I’m not part of it, thanks to the amazing fragmentation and to contructors who just doesn’t care about their customers…