Look out Siri! Google Now taking a bite out of Apple

Google extends its smart, talking assistant to the Apple iPhone and iPad

Watch out, Siri. Apple's iPhones and iPads are getting a new talking assistant -- and it's not you!

Google this morning launched a version of Google Now for Apple's iPhone and iPad. Google moved its year-old predictive personal assistant to iOS as part of its update to its mobile search app.

"Today, with the launch of Google Now on iPhone and iPad, your smartphone will become even smarter," wrote Andrea Huey, a Google engineer. "It can show you the day's weather as you get dressed in the morning, or alert you that there's heavy traffic. It can also share news updates on a story you've been following, remind you to leave for the airport so you can make your flight."

Huey pointed out that with Google Now and the updated Search app, users can tap the microphone icon and speak to their phone and get answers spoken back to them. For instance, a user can ask if he needs a jacket and he'll get the forecast. Or he can ask to hear the cast of a movie he's considering going to see.

"Voice Search is particularly handy on the go," wrote Huey. "Try 'Show me nearby pizza places' and you'll see a map of restaurants around you with directions, phone numbers, ratings and hours."

Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy, said Google is smart to push its app out beyond Android-based devices onto Apple's popular platforms.

"Google is investing in Google everywhere, even when consumers don't buy their phone or OS," Moorhead said. "The challenge will be the quality of the experience."

The updated Google Search app can be downloaded from Apple's App Store.

The Google Now voice service is an obvious competitor to Apple's Siri, which was introduced with the iPhone 4S in 2011.

Siri could be open to taking a competitive hit, after user complaints that it isn't as helpful or seamless as promised.

Google introduced Now, a Siri-like intelligent assistant that uses a natural language interface, last June as part of an upgrade to its Android operating system -- Android 4.1, also known as Jelly Bean.

The search-based feature is designed to put a user's search history, calendar, location and Google Maps to work to offer helpful information, whether she's missed her train or needs an update on her next flight.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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