Google Now has been spotted in Google web browser code, sparking speculation that the predictive, contextual assistant feature could be coming to Chrome.
Discovered by Francois Beaufort, a poster to developer forum Chromium Code Review, the code is currently dormant -- ie, yet to be activated -- but bringing the feature to all Chrome browser users could make the browser even more appealing to those currently running Internet Explorer, Firefox or Apple's Safari and would also improve the quality of the service for existing users.
Google Now is currently available solely to Android smartphone and tablet users and only those lucky enough to have a device that runs Jellybean, the latest version of the operating system. Like the vast majority of Google products and services, Google Now needs a critical mass of users constantly accessing, critiquing and feeding back on its service in order for it to work properly. However, of the 500 million+ Android users in the world right now, only 6.7 percent, or roughly 34 million, are running Jellybean and so have access to the service.
Chrome on the other hand, is already the world's most popular browser and its market share is growing. Likewise, Gmail, Google's webmail service, finally surpassed Hotmail to become number one this year and Gmail also feeds into Google Now to improve its performance.
From bus timetables and the specials at a local restaurant, to sports results and weather reports, Google Now ‘pushes' index cards to smartphones and tablets containing relevant information based on location, preferences, and appointments schedule. Designed to give users "just the right information at just the right time," Google Now also recognizes voice commands and its predictive powers have been likened to mind reading. Even with its currently limited pool of users, the service is constantly developing and on December 5 a number of new features were added so that Google Now can tell users what the weather will be like when they take a vacation as well as automatically access their boarding pass when they arrive at the airport and offer suggestions for things to do when the plane touches down.