Google Search iOS app now offers hands-free voice search

Google has tweaked its iOS search app, adding features already in use by Android users.

Google's updated search app for iOS.
Google's updated search app for iOS. Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Google Search for iOS finally seems to have caught up with its Android counterpart.

Released Tuesday, version 3.1 of Google Search for iOS updates Google Now, which provides notifications, reminders, and other personalized taps on the shoulder.

Prominent among the enhancements is hands-free voice searching. You can trigger a search just by launching the search app, uttering the phrase "OK Google," and then speaking your query. In return, your iPhone or iPad either displays or speaks the hopefully appropriate response. The hands-free voice search requires an iPhone 4s or later.

Notifications can now alert you to specific items without even opening the Google Search app. You can ask Google to remind you of appointments, tasks, and even news items. Google Now also offers iOS users new cards that can display movie and concert tickets, boarding passes, reservation confirmations, and other bits of information.

Finally, Google has beefed up the overall app. The search page is more streamlined. You can use gestures to zoom in or remove panels. And you only need to sign in once to use all other Google apps.

Google Search is compatible with the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch and requires iOS 6.0 or later.

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