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Your guide to Google Now on iOS

Not sure what Google Now is or why you'd want it on your iOS device? Read this.

Jason Cipriani/CNET

On Monday Google released an update to the Google Search app for all iOS users that added one major feature: Google Now. Until this release, Google Now was only available on Android devices, although there have been some indications that the service will eventually show up in Chrome. But this is likely the first time iOS users have seen the service, so you might be wondering what it does and how it works. Well, let's take a look.

Get Google Now on iOS

On Android, Google Now is more or less a standalone app, but on iOS, Google had to include the service in its Google Search app. Download the latest version of Google Search from the App Store and then launch the app. After installing version 3.0 of Google Search, the first time you open the app you'll be greeted with a short walkthrough of Google Now. You'll need to sign in to your Google account and then agree to let Google use your location and other information for results in Google Now.

What can you do with Google Now?

Just like on Android, Google Now on iOS is built to give you information before you even ask for it. Whether it's the current temperature outside, what the commute looks like to/from work, your favorite sports scores, or the current price of a particular stock, Google Now tracks all of this for you without you having to constantly tell it what to do. That information is then displayed in the form of cards. To view the cards, you'll need to swipe up from the bottom of the Google Search app, where you can see the top of the cards waiting for you.
Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

To clear out a card you no longer wish to see, you simply swipe to the right or left to throw it off your screen. When you get to the bottom of the cards, you should see a "Show more cards" option if more cards are available. If not, you'll see "Show sample cards," which will be filled with fake information, but will provide you with a general idea of what to expect from Google Now.

Set up Google Now

Google Now can be a tad on the creepy side when it comes to knowing information about you, but it doesn't know everything. As such, you're going to have to set up various categories and topics in order to help Google Now.
Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

You can customize individual categories by tapping on the "i" in the top-right corner of an individual card. You can also find the Settings icon by scrolling to the bottom of the Google Now cards. In the settings for Google Now, you'll find a total of 15 different categories you can customize and tailor to meet your needs.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

By tapping on a category you can turn individual categories completely off, add your favorite sports teams, enter your home and work addresses for commute information, and add stocks to watch.

The Gmail card will scan your Gmail account for e-mails containing information about upcoming flights, incoming packages, and then it automatically provide updates for you. Unfortunately, Google Now on iOS doesn't have the ability to provide boarding passes like its Android counterpart.

There are a few limitations

If you're a Google Apps user, you'll be disappointed to know that Google Now isn't compatible with Apps accounts. Right now, the Gmail scanning service, along with the calendar-scanning feature on iOS, will only work with a Gmail account. This is something Android users have been asking for since the launch of Gmail scanning, and hopefully it's something Google adds to Google Now soon.

A major hurdle Google faces with Google Now on iOS is that it can't run in the background on iOS as it can on Android. On Android, a user will receive an alert based on commute times, or score updates without having to launch the app, but it doesn't appear that this is possible with iOS yet. Did you notice you weren't asked to grant the Google Search app permission to use push notifications? Yeah, me, too.

While Google Now on iOS may not be as full-featured as it is on Android, it's still a reliable way to get both monotonous and vital information without having to do too much work.