updated 01:14 pm EST, Tue November 5, 2013
Adds notifications for events, public transit
Google has released a major update of its iOS Search app, v3.1.0. One significant addition is hands-free voice search, activated by saying "OK Google" as on Android devices. With iOS the option requires an iPhone 4S or better; voice searches can still be triggered by tapping a button.
A more fundamental addition is notifications, which for the first time allow alerts outside the app for things like events, flights, and bus and train arrivals. The app will notify users if a flight is delayed, for instance, or how to catch a train home. That information was already accessible via Google Now cards, but in iOS users have to launch Google Search to get access to Now.
Another carryover from Android is reminders. Through voice search, people can ask the updated app to remind them about specific tasks, which can also be time- and location-aware. In terms of time, a reminder can be set for a specific hour -- like 3PM -- or a broad window such as "this evening" or "the weekend." They can also be linked to news about things like politicians, musicians, movies, and TV shows by tapping a "remind me" button during searches.
Notifications must be enabled in the app before they'll begin appearing elsewhere. The data for them is pulled from other Google services, such as Gmail and Calendar. Search is a free download and runs on any device with iOS 6 or later.