How to use Google Search's new features in iOS

The newly updated app offers a few key hands-free operations, and you can even use Siri to get started.

Google Now for iOS isn't quite on par with its Android counterpart, but it's getting very close -- especially after yesterday's release of the updated Google Search app .

In case you're unfamiliar with it, Google Now integrates with the Search app to provide you custom, personalized information, everything from local weather to sports scores to traffic reports -- and now, reminders. This data appears on cards when you swipe up from the main Google-search screen.

The update adds a few noteworthy new features to the mix, most of which Android users have already been enjoying. Here's how to make the most of the new Google Search for iOS.

Google Search app using hands-free search.
Later this month, in case you're wondering. Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Run a hands-free Web search

After you load the Google Search app, you can perform a hands-free search by saying, "OK, Google," pausing until you hear the beep, then saying whatever you want to search for.

Unfortunately, the app must be running for this voice-powered search to work. Only the Moto X smartphone can leverage Google Search while in standby, and iPhone users will have to unlock their phones and run the app manually.

Or maybe not! If you have an iPhone 4S or later (which is required for voice-powered searching), you can use Siri to run Google Search, and then operate the app with the "OK, Google" command. See, there is a partnership of sorts between Apple and Google!

Google Search app lets you create reminders by voice.
The updated Google Search app lets you create reminders by voice. Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Set a hands-free reminder

Once you have Google Search running (either manually or via Siri), you can perform other voice-powered tricks as well. To set a reminder, for example, you'd say, "OK, Google," then any of the following:

  • "Remind me to start a load of laundry when I get home."
  • "Remind me to call Dave Jones at 10 a.m. tomorrow."
  • "Remind me to rake the leaves this weekend."

Unfortunately, once the app creates the reminder for you, you'll still have to tap the screen to actually set it, so it's not an entirely hands-free operation. On the plus side, you can tweak "when" and "where" settings as needed before finalizing the reminder.

The good news is that those reminders will become push notifications, meaning your iPhone or iPad doesn't have to remain on, and you don't need to be actively using the Google Search app.

However, and this is no surprise, the app still doesn't integrate directly with iOS, so you can't do things like add appointments and have them appear in Calendar.

Have you found any other crafty ways to use Google Search and/or Google Now? Tell us about them in the comments.

 

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