Google Now has been around for almost two years, but it's been limited to smartphone and tablet users running Google Inc.'s (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android operating system and some Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) iOS users who use the Google Search app for iPhone and iPad.
That’s about to change, as Google announced on Monday that it's rolling out Google Now for Google Chrome, the most popular Web browser, which means that millions of desktop and laptop users will get to use Google Now for the first time.
For those who haven’t used Google Now, it’s a voice-enabled personal assistant program similar to Apple’s Siri, but it utilizes Google’s data and services to predict information that will be useful and relevant for its users.
For example, if a Google user searches for sports teams, Google Now will display Google Now cards with scores. If a user has “work” and “home” locations saved on Google Maps, Google Now will display cards with directions and traffic information. Google Now also has cards for weather, event reminders, news, stock quotes and many other things.
Google Now will be available for anyone running the latest version of the Chrome Web browser on Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) Windows or Apple OSX. Google will add a bell icon to the Windows system tray or the OSX menu bar, and clicking on it will display a list of Google Now cards. Google Now isn't currently available for users running Chrome for Linux.
A user has to be signed in to their Google account to activate Google Now on Chrome, though Google said it will roll out the feature gradually over the coming weeks.
If you want to activate it now, go to “chrome://flags” and change the Google Now option from “default” to “enabled.” You can also set it to “disabled” if you want to avoid from Google Now completely.
Some have complained that Google Now is a bit creepy because it reveals how much data Google really collects from users, but most tech critics have praised the program since its debut at the 2012 Google I/O conference. Google Now even earned an “Innovation of the Year” award from Popular Science.