Some of the biggest buzz among tech fans has been the release of Google Now for iOS just a few days ago. It would seem that with this release, Google is adding frosting to their cake: the plethora of nicely designed apps (Maps, Currents, and Gmail being some of my favorite picks among them). This collection of apps making it even more compelling for users to not necessarily feel like they have to make a switch of devices or operating systems in order to utilize Google’s web services. So is Google Now the crown jewel of it all?
Not so much. Let me preface my concerns with this first: I like Google. I think they are great with web services. I utilize and rely on a lot of them and have since I was on the internet. I am also a paying customer of the Google Apps for Business as well. I have used and continue to use Google’s mobile apps on both iOS and Android frequently. Google Now particularly is pretty awesome on Android. Being able to automatically notified about the best way to commute to and back from work, or notified of the details of an upcoming flight of mine is some great data science at work. And the port to iOS, design-wise, is quite pretty and pleasant to use within app. Consequently, I want to use Google Now and use it well on iOS.
But here’s my main concerns – and they aren’t unique to me, they’re felt by people who’ve used the app all across the board.
While Google Now would be a smashing success, one reason for it being a dud right out of the gate it that it has no push notification as of yet. You got that? No push notifications at all. Kind of beats the purpose of Google Now, doesn’t it? The greatness of the app on Android is that it’s able to notify you of helpful information when it’s relevant – not when you decided it may be helpful to check the Google Now app. I will probably not be checking on this app a whole lot, and therefore not finding it resourceful when I really need it, because I will have to remember to use it each time. [pullquote align=”left”]No push notifications at all. Kind of beats the purpose of Google Now, doesn’t it?[/pullquote]
The other big reason that’s kept me from spending too much time within this app is that there have been several reports that your device’s battery takes a big hit when using this app. A couple of articles on other blogs Cult of Mac and LifeHacker discussing this issue attribute it to the possibility that Google Now requires an aggressive use of location services to be helpful with traffic estimates and navigation. Interestingly, Google has contacted Lifehacker in response to their article to offer this response to the battery life issue (read entire article here):[quote style=”1″]Reports that Google Now drains battery life are incorrect. We understand people’s concern about seeing the Location Services icon stay on when they use Google Now. Many apps that keep the icon on actually do drain the phone’s battery because they require very accurate location. (For example a navigation app has to run your GPS all the time to keep you from missing your turn.) Google Now is built very differently: it uses cell towers and wifi hot spots for much lower battery impact. We extensively tested Google Now on iOS for months and didn’t see reports of significant battery impact — we would encourage you to try it in the Google Search app for a few days and we don’t expect you to see significant impact on your battery. If you are seeing a problem, please do tell us (just tap feedback in the app settings). We take user feedback very seriously.[/quote]
So in regards to the battery life issue, all I can say is: keep watch on it, and let me know if you run into this issue as well!
All in all, these are the two main things that keep me from recommending getting Google Now onto your device. Could this get better soon? Sure. If Google is able to incorporate push notification support while killing some possible bugs that could be draining the battery life in an upcoming series of updates, I’ll easily be quick to warm up to using it often.
That’s my take on the app, but what’s yours? Are you a fan of the app, or found other reasons to hold off? Let us know your thoughts and comment below!