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Google's iOS search app gets improved reminders, notifications

Google has added new features to its search app on iOS, like updated reminders and hands-free search, designed to proactively deliver information to people at certain moments.

The features include updated push notifications for things like appointments, flights and restaurant reservations; a way to set reminders by voice; a new set of "cards" to help users keep track of their tickets and boarding passes; and hands-free search activated by saying "Ok Google."

The new tools, which were announced Tuesday, bring more of the features that are already on Google's Android-based search app to iOS devices.

Providing information to people without them having to ask for it is a common theme in the new tools. With the updated push notifications, for instance, users will see an alert on their lock screen telling them they should leave soon for an appointment if there is traffic on the road. Previously, these types of notifications could only be accessed within the search app on iOS, but now they will appear more front and center on the device.

Boarding passes and tickets to events like movies and concerts will also appear automatically when users arrive at the venue or airport, as long as those passes are stored in users' Google accounts.

It's now also easier for people to set reminders on their iOS devices. With the update, the user can say, "OK Google, remind me to take a nap when I get home," and a notification will appear as soon as the person is near the house, according to the company.

There are also some new functionalities for reminders tied to entertainment like movies, albums, actors or artists. Users can click "remind me," and the app will let them know when a new movie is about to debut or an album is about to be released.

Finally, there is a new voice-enabled search mode. The search app already had a voice search button on iOS, but now users can search in the Google Now section of the app simply by saying, "OK Google." They can ask the question out loud, and get instant answers spoken back, Google said.

The update is available for the iPhone and iPad, though the "OK Google" voice search command is only available for the iPhone 4s and later models, and the iPad 2 and up.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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