We’ve been beating around the Google Now widget that disappeared moments after it surfaced on Nexus support pages earlier this week. Now it looks like Jelly Bean users are in for a major treat as the new update to the Google Now service has brought along with it the widget amongst other important features.
The widget that will work on your homescreen as well as locked screen will update relevant information just like the Google Now app. The widget will show you weather, directions you last asked of Google Maps and traffic expected now.
Besides a whole new widget experience, Google has added plenty new features for users to enjoy with this update. The service has integrated new partners like Rotten Tomatoes, Fandango and Zillow to help Google Now users do a lot more with the service than merely check weather and traffic on it.
The widget in all its glory
Rotten Tomatoes’ listings appear in the movies card that Google Now already has. The service will now also integrate Fandango to help users pick out movie tickets. The Fandango integration is pretty similar to the existing arrangements for restaurant bookings, flights, hotels and events.
Google Now will also now display real estate listings from Willow when it notices you’ve been surfing a lot of websites related to renting and buying houses. Whether or not Google Now will be able to intuitively understand your requirements from your home, is not clear yet.
Needless to say, with no Fandango and Willow, and the pitiably low usage of QR-code related services in India, these features are almost good for nothing here.
This is the fourth update for Google Now since it was first unveiled at Google I/O in 2012 and the changes that the service has been incorporating to throw up relevant information even before the user needs it is remarkable.
Google Now is evidently the next big thing and even though it has been in the works for a while, Google seems to be keen on pushing it. One important proof of Google’s attachment to Now is that a desktop Chrome version of the service is in offering.
A slew of experiments are being conducted with Google’s open source web browser project Chromium, including an addition of a new notification centre in the beginning of February, paving the way for Google Now cards to be incorporated with Chrome. A screenshot of the new release showed a pop-up with the ability to hold multiple notifications in Chromium.
Google had also premiered a Nexus 4 commercial during prime time Grammys in the United States that spoke nothing about the phone but about Google Now. The ad went into detailing what Google Now can do on your Nexus 4 rather than dwelling on the device by itself. It enumerated Google Now’s ability to predict the weather, inform you about train timings, plan and execute a trip successfully. The ad also showed how the service can be used for translations and video chat using hangouts.