Google Search app gaining Reminders, ‘OK Google’ activation, push notifications and more

iPhone Triptych - Clear Background

Google today invited a bunch of reporters to a garage where the Internet giant started it all, a convenient setting given Google Search turns fifteen tomorrow.

The company’s SVP of Search Amit Singhal let us in on some notable updates concerning the mobile Search app for iOS and Android. For starters, the new version sports a refreshed user interface and such enhancements like new comparison filters.

More importantly, the iOS app will gain push notifications for reminders that will pop up on your screen when due. You’ll be also able to use the ‘OK Google’ phrase for hands-free Google Search access on your iOS devices, the company said, and more…

The Mountain View technology giant has previewed the upcoming Search iOS app update with Google Now notifications and the ability to say “OK Google” to speak your question hands-free.

I have no idea how Google accomplished this because Apple doesn’t allow apps to monitor the mic in the background. Two possibilities: Google may be using the new background refresh API in iOS 7 or the iPhone 5s’s M7 chip – which Apple says monitors gyro, accelerometer and compass sensors, but not the mic.

Aside from this, you should immediately notice a cleaner, more streamlined look for the Search app across iOS and Android phones and tablets.

Google says the app is now optimized for touch, with results clustered on cards so you can focus on the answers you’re looking for. Thanks to Knowledge Graph enhancements, you’ll be able to ask more complex questions like “Tell me about Impressionist artists” and see who the artists are.

That’s not all, the app will let you dive in to learn more about each of them and explore their most famous works. “If you want to switch to Abstract artists, you can do that really easily with our new filter tool,” said the search monster.

Another nice-to-have: suggested items clustered into smart groupings.

As depicted below, these new Knowledge Graph filters let you compare two different things. A few examples: “compare butter with olive oil,” “compare pekingese vs. chihuahua,” “compare earth vs. neptune” and more.

This should be great for research!

I’m curious as to whether this works for product comparison (i.e. “compare iPhone 5s to iPhone 4”).

Screen Shot 2013-09-26 at 10.31.09 AMNexus 4 - Impressionist ArtistsNexus 4 - Neil Armstrong

The company’s Inside Search blog explains that a new version of the Google Search app on iPhone and iPad will be available in the next couple of weeks.

Notifications are cross-platform:

With this update, you can get notifications across your devices. So if you tell your Nexus 7, “OK Google. Remind me to buy olive oil at Safeway,” when you walk into the store with your iPhone, you’ll get a reminder.

We’ll also show you Google Now notifications so you’re not late to your cooking class.

By the way, check out Google’s first worldwide headquarters, via Susan Wojcicki.


This is where they’ve invited the press today to share Search app advancements and celebrate the fiftienth anniversary of Google Search.

And those over 30 should remember the original Google Search web page.


Additional images are available in an album on Google’s Google+ page. There’s no doubt that Google Search has advanced beyond comprehension in the past fifteen years, here’s a nice infographic.

Search Timeline for blog post.001

Also coming to Google Search iOS/ Android app: ads (it’s a trend).

Phew, how’s this for a Google app update for you?