Google Now was first introduced last year as part of the Jelly Bean version of Android. Generally regarded as a more comprehensive alternative to Apple’s Siri, the popular personal assistant feature was largely expected to hit iOS devices and Chrome sometime this year, but now new evidence suggests the search giant might be going for an even wider rollout as it bakes the functionality into the Google.com home page.
References to the feature were spotted by the Google Operating System blog on a test page for the search engine containing several mentions scattered throughout the code, including the following introduction: “Get started with Google Now. Just the right information at just the right time.”
Google Now on a Nexus 10 tablet
It's not clear how Google Now will look on desktops compared to the Android app, but the code suggests users will be able to set and edit their home and work locations as well as their current location, and customize what to display through the use of “cards” -- the service currently supports over 25 different card types, including friends’ birthdays, restaurant reservations, boarding passes, news, events and so on.
Bringing Google Now cards to the Google homepage would mark a stark departure from the minimalist approach the company has usually taken. That said, even if Google Now indeed makes it outside of the mobile landscape, we imagine the feature won’t be forced upon all users but rather be presented an option for those who want a more customized experience -- sort of a modern version of the soon to be shut down iGoogle.
As a refresher, Google Now uses a natural language user interface to answer questions, make recommendations, and deliver information to the user even before he asks for it by predicting what they want based on user settings and past search habits. From the service’s official description: “It tells you today’s weather before you start your day, how much traffic to expect before you leave for work, when the next train will arrive as you’re standing on the platform, or your favorite team's score while they’re playing. And the best part? All of this happens automatically. Cards appear throughout the day at the moment you need them.”