In the seemingly eternal struggle between iOS and Android, the one thing Google will always be able to hold over Apple is the fact that their users may prefer Apple hardware, but love Google’s services.Google Now is the latest example of this, which may be why Apple is stalling the release of the app on iOS.
If you let it, and if the manufacturer makes it easy, Google Now can completely change the way you interact with your phone. If you’re already using Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Search, the benefits you gain from Now are impressive. The app will grab all of the relevant information from your Google services and put them into context without you asking. The app lets you know how long it will take you to drive from your current location to the location of your next appointment, and when that meeting is over it will automatically have a card ready to show you how to get home. The app is aware of traffic, and the voice search built into the app is great at doing just about anything. Bringing this service to iOS would be a fantastic accomplishment for Google, and apparently the only thing standing in the way right now is Apple.
Like everything in the Apple ecosystem, apps that are sold in the App Store are individually approved. Sure, every once in awhile something crazy gets through, but you better believe the company is paying attention when Google is listed as the publisher an app. At a recent event in India, Google’s Eric Schmidt hinted at the possibility of Google Now for iOS. It’s not news they were working on the app, as a video promo of the service leaked a few weeks back. What was made clear during the conversation with Schmidt was that Apple has a history of holding up apps that Google is trying to publish, and an updated Google Search app with Now onboard is likely the latest to suffer.
Google Now accesses a significant volume of information, and while Google’s obviously alright with that on Android, it would make sense for Apple to be a little hesitant. Much in the same way that Chrome has an age restriction tag on it in the App Store, I suspect the Google Search App will come with Apple-made user warnings about the way Now is supposed to work. If the app ever does make it to iOS, though, the service will never be as functional as it is on Android — which would also give Apple cause for concern.
What makes Google Now so functional on Android is how quickly you can access information from it. Google Now is controlled with a single swipe up on stock Android phones, as well as a lockscreen widget and a desktop widget that do a great job constantly displaying information. Accessing Google Now on an iPhone will mean going to the search app and then activating the service, and that additional step makes it less likely to be used on a whim.