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The best app you're not using on your iPhone

By Guest Blogger(view all posts by Rick.Broida)
at 10:00AM Tuesday April 30, 2013
under Stuff We Like

Got an iPhone? Run, don't walk (virtually speaking), to the App Store and download Google Search. Go ahead, I'll wait.

This app has been around for awhile now, but a new update released yesterday makes it even better. Let's start with what's old, then move onto what's new.

As you might expect, Google Search endows your iPhone (or iPod Touch or iPad) with the power of, well, Google search. Perhaps you're already using Google as the search engine in your Safari Web browser, but the app takes things to a whole new level.

First and foremost, it supports voice-powered searching, which works with startling, almost magical accuracy. (It's what Siri aspires to be, but isn't.) Just tap the microphone icon, state your search request, then watch while the app almost instantly transcribes your words into text--and quickly gives you a spot-on answer.

Ask, for example, "What's the capital of Nebraska?" In roughly three seconds, you'll hear, "The capital of Nebraska is Lincoln." Then you'll see a map, followed by a Wikipedia link and other typical search results. All this happens remarkably fast. We are totally living in the future, people.

The app also affords one-tap access to loads of other Google services, including Calendar, Google Drive, Google Plus, Photos, Translate, and so on. Basically, whatever you want from Google, Google Search is your portal.

And it just got even more amazing thanks to the addition of Google Now, which was previously limited to Android phones (and only those running Android 4.1, aka Jelly Bean).

Think of Google Now as a kind of personal assistant, one that can give you custom information based on the time of day, your current location, and other factors. All this info is delivered via "cards" that appear when you swipe up from the bottom of the Search app.

So, for example, you might see cards showing the local weather, your next appointment (as listed in Google Calendar), the traffic on your route to work, info and updates for your next flight, scores for last night's baseball game, and movie showtimes when you're near a theater.

Obviously a lot of this requires you to be active in Google's ecosystem. To get notified of friends' birthdays, for example, you need to be linked to those friends via Google Plus (so that Google knows the correct dates). And things like flight details are drawn from confirmation e-mails you receive--but only if you receive them in a Gmail account.

Even with these requirements, Google Search now ranks among the coolest (and most practical) iOS apps ever. It's free, and it's fabulous. Why are you still reading this? Go try it!

Veteran technology writer Rick Broida is the author of numerous books, blogs, and features. He lends his money-saving expertise to CNET and, and also writes for PC World and Wired.