Google Now alerts hit desktop Chrome, OS subversion continues

Google Now cards appear on Windows desktop and in OS X's Notification Center when signed into the Chrome browser

Google yesterday began rolling out Google Now notifications to users of its desktop browsers on Microsoft's Windows and Apple's OS X.

"If you use Google Now on your mobile device, you can see certain Now cards on your desktop computer if you're signed into Chrome, including weather, sports scores, commute traffic, and event reminders cards," the company said in a support document published Monday.

Google Now notifications
Google Now notifications appear on Chrome-equipped desktop and notebook systems. In Windows 7 (shown here), the notifications appear near the taskbar. (Image: JR Raphael.)

The "cards" -- small, boxed notifications in Windows -- have been available on Android- and iOS-powered mobile devices since 2012 and mid-2013, respectively, as part of the Google Now personal assistant, the Mountain View, Calif. company's answer to Apple's Siri, which debuted in 2011.

Users must sign into Chrome with a Google Account to synchronize and view the cards on the desktop.

In Windows, the notifications appear on the desktop outside of Chrome itself, popping up from the operating system's taskbar. On OS X, Google Now cards are integrated with the Notification Center, the centralized application-generated alert area that first appeared in OS X 10.8, aka Mountain Lion, in July 2012.

Google Now cards debuted in Chrome's beta channel in early February, when the feature hit Windows, OS X and Chrome OS, the browser-based operating system that runs Chromebook laptops and desktop personal computers.

Searches done from Chrome on a desktop also spawn Google Now cards on a mobile device; that's been the case on Android devices since the launch of version 4.1, aka Jelly Bean, in mid-2012.

The addition of on-desktop, or in the case of OS X, in-Notification Center, alerts from Google Now is just the latest in a series of moves Google's made to subvert the underlying operating system of rivals' devices.

Google's made no secret of its intensions to assimilate devices by trying to lock users into its wide array of services. Earlier this month, for example, Google began letting developers of Chrome packaged apps issue free trials and offer in-app purchases, and allow creators of browser extensions to charge for their wares -- all part of its efforts to build out the app and add-on count in the Chrome Web Store, and thus, steer users toward its ecosystem.

And in January, Google revamped Chrome's Windows 8 "Metro" app to closely resemble Chrome OS, essentially replacing Microsoft's default user interface (UI) with its own.

Chrome can be downloaded from Google's website in versions for Windows and OS X.

JR Raphael, of Computerworld, contributed to this report.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at  @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more by Gregg Keizer on Computerworld.com.

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