What is Google Now? Well, it’s a way for Google to give you information it thinks you want based on information you’ve searched before, all in the form of pop-up cards that get sent to your phone or device. Before non-believers start thinking that’s an annoying way to intrude on your personal (phone) space, remember that these notifications can be turned off, and they’re based on things you’ve wanted to know before. If you’ve looked up the score for a certain major league baseball team in the past, why wouldn’t you want to know today’s score, right?
The feature must have been popular enough with mobile users because Google has begun adding it to other platforms it owns, like YouTube videos. Now, though, the Chrome operating system is the next major player to benefit from the “let me tell you what’s happening” facelift.
Chrome users in the beta launch who see their upgraded start menu with the Google search box in the middle will now see Google Now cards at the bottom of the screen. The cards can be opened with a click, but are mostly unobtrusive enough to be ignored.
It’s kind of noteworthy that Microsoft’s answer to virtual assistants—Cortana–will be integrated in the fall launch of Windows 10, while Google takes its sweet time in integrating even something as simple as a pop-up card into its popular Chrome OS. It’s a wonder it’s taken this long, considering the earlier adoption of it for device users.
Another chief change in Chrome’s update is the placement of “frequently used” apps front and center, rather than the list of favorites. Users who have saved apps that they might not use all that often but that they need to have accessible (like an online banking app or dictionary app, for example) will need to have those pinned to their start panels if they still want to see them at the ends of their fingertips. While the Google Now notifications can be turned off if users have trouble taking to them, there is no word yet on whether or not Chrome users will be able to go back to the older “classic” version of their start screens once the update rolls out.