The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Lifestyle

April 30, 2013

Review: Google Now useful as a supplement to Siri

(Continued)

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.

For the most part, the Apple and the Android versions are similar in terms of the information they present.

But Google Now isn't as seamless to use on the iPhone or the iPad, mainly because Google doesn't have as central a presence in Apple's iOS operating system. On an Android device, clicking a Google Now card will often take you to a built-in Google app such as Google Maps or Calendar for more details. On the iPad Mini I tested it on, I got Web pages — at least until I manually installed Google's mapping app.

Google Now also isn't as easy to get to on the Apple devices. Holding the home button a second or two gets you Siri. Just speak to her with your question or search request. To use Google Now as a voice assistant, you need to open the Google Search app, and then tap on the microphone icon. Sometimes, you need to tap on the search box in the app for the microphone to appear. That microphone is sometimes on top, sometimes at the bottom or sometimes on the on-screen keyboard. (There's no home button to quickly get Google Now on Android, but you can skip one or two steps by finding the microphone on the top right of the home screen.)

To be clear, Siri is the better of the two — as a voice assistant. She'll always respond with something, even if it's to seek clarification. Google Now will often remain silent, sometimes giving you no more than a list of websites. Google Now's assistant also lacks Siri's feistiness and sense of humor. Siri, for instance, has more than a dozen witty responses to queries about the meaning of life. I compared the two for a review in March, so I won't dwell on that here.

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