A leaked YouTube video suggests Google's contextual search and concierge service Google Now -- familiar to many Android users -- is about to turn up on Apple devices.
The video, which appeared on YouTube late Tuesday and was first spotted by Engadget, only to be very quickly pulled again (but not before users downloaded it, copied it and reposted it), details how easy Google Now will integrate into iPhone users' lives. Like the Android version, it will learn about the user from their search history and preferences, the content of emails in their Gmail account, diary appointments and of course their physical location. When combined, all of this data enables the program to push search results and information to users -- whether it is the latest scores in a football match, the weather conditions in the country to which they're traveling or if there are delays due to traffic congestion.
Google Now shares some similarities with Siri, Apple's own voice-activated virtual assistant -- it can answer questions and can be instructed to perform web searches.
However, unlike Siri, Google Now can anticipate a user's needs and service them automatically. For instance, if a user is traveling to the train station or airport, Google Now will automatically retrieve the electronic ticket or boarding pass and make sure it is on the smartphone's homescreen.
The system has already been tweaked and updated several times since its launch last summer but, as with all Google products, it is informed and improved through use.
The more people use it and the more data it can access and analyze, the more accurate it becomes. And therein lies the problem: Google Now is only accessible to Android smartphone and tablet owners with a device that runs the latest version (Jelly Bean) of the operating system. The latest Android distribution figures, published on March 5, show that currently only 16.5 percent of Android device users worldwide are running some form of Jelly Bean but only 1.6 percent are running version 4.2, the most up-to-date system currently available.
A number of tech blogs, including TechCrunch and Slashgear, reported Tuesday that the code for Google Now had been discovered in the latest version of Google's Chrome browser for Windows and its own Chromebooks, suggesting that Google is planning to push the service to as many PC, smartphone and tablet users as possible. Early reviewers who have sampled Google Glass, the company's much-hyped headset have commented that the display uses the same visual framework -- such as timeline cards interface -- as Google Now in order to present information to wearers.