Google Search for iOS review:

Voice Search speed makes this app a must

In the latest version of Google Search released November 5, you won't even need to touch the microphone button to perform a voice search. Taking a page from the voice command system for Google Glass ("OK, Glass") Google Search will now let you start by saying "OK, Google" to perform searches, create reminders, and several other useful actions. The app can also now send push notifications so you can use the voice system to send yourself a reminder. For example, you could say, "OK, Google, remind me to buy new light bulbs when I go to Ace Hardware." When you walk into an Ace Hardware store (if the particular store's location is indexed on Google) you should receive a notification to buy light bulbs. Part of what made Google Search somewhat inferior to Apple's Siri was that it was not fully integrated and couldn't perform actions like these. These new features make Google Search an even more attractive option for your every day search engine.

Google Now
With Google Now, you get "cards" that show up based on your location, time of day, and other criteria to bring you information you might need right now. It does this by checking with all the Google services you use (like Gmail and the calendar) and then delivering the most pertinent information for where you are currently. Here at the office, Google Now displayed a card to give me the current weather here in San Francisco and another one to tell me how long it would take for me to get home with current traffic. The latter lets me touch a map to open Google Maps for the best routes to take to get home. The more you use Google Now, it will tell you more things based on your habits, like the scores for your favorite teams, public transit times, flight information, meetings in your calendar, and even currency conversion rates when you go on vacation.

Using Google Search over time, the Google Now features have been a great addition. As an example, I watched an Eminem video some time ago on YouTube, and just the other day, Google Now pointed out I could buy his new album. I have performed searches for my sports teams and later got sports team cards to tell me when the game was coming. The point of Google Now is to deliver the information when I need it, and it seems to do a pretty good job of remember what I'm interested in (even if that is a bit unsettling).

All that said, Google Now's cards do take some getting used to because they're a more or less passive experience and they can seem a little random at times. Unavoidably, you will encounter cards that Google thinks are relevant to you, when in fact they aren't. Just the same, you'll probably find yourself wanting a particular card to show up, and it won't. So, the service isn't perfect, but it seems to improve the more I use it.

More than just search
Along with all the search features, you can access Google's apps, edit your documents, update your calenders, and all the other things that Google has to offer. In an earlier review, I didn't like how the app wouldn't let me edit spreadsheets, but I am now able to edit without incident. It still seems to have problems listing large spreadsheets, however, but if you switch to landscape it works better. Hopefully, this is something Google will address in later updates.

Autoplay: ON Autoplay: OFF

What you'll pay

    Visit manufacturer site for details.

    Hot Products

    This week on CNET News


    Discuss: Google Search (iOS)

    Conversation powered by Livefyre