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Google Now gets new widget, but UK misses fresh features

Google Now, er, now appears on your homescreen! You also get more search options, but some are limited to the States.

Google has updated its search app for Android, bringing glossy new features to its spookily knowledgeable Google Now service.

If you update the search app, which is now available in the UK Google Play store, you'll get a new Google Now widget that can sit on your homescreen and cleverly display information relevant to you, without you having to search for it.

That's a real timesaver, as previously to use Google Now you had to swipe up from the bottom of the screen to see what the app had to offer.

Android is all about widgets and customisation, however, so I'm pleased to see Google sticking the information you need where it's easiest to actually absorb.

I tried the new widget on a Nexus 4 in the office, where it showed the time it would take me to get home (allowing for heavy traffic), and the weather in London, which is rainy. But you probably didn't need the monumental algorithm-crushing power of Google to tell you that. 

Google Now calls up information before you ask for it, making a judgement on what you need to know based on factors such as your search history and location. It could display train times when you're about to leave for work in the morning, for example.

Google has also introduced extra information when you search, like movie ratings via Rotten Tomatoes and movie tickets from Fandango. You also get real estate listings from Zillow and US college sport information, but not all of these services will work in the UK, unfortunately.

That's akin to Apple's Siri, which usually sees new features arriving in the States first. Google needs to beef up its British search offering if it wants to make Google Now a more powerful assistant than Apple's snooty robot butler.

Have you tried the new widget? What do you think? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook wall.