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Google Now for Chrome rolled out

Google Now for Chrome rolled out
Google Now for Chrome rolled out
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Google Now has been years in the works, but as of today Google announced its official rollout and formally introduced it to the desktop. This means that Google Now for both Windows and Apple OS has been pushed to the Chrome stable channel. Whereas Google Now cards had been limited to Android and iOS users in the past, as of today desktop and laptop Chrome users can make use of these tools.

Many of us started using the tool accidentally when Google Now cards containing contextual information like information on a traffic jam looking ahead or a storm approaching “popped up” on our Android phones. Now, if you use the app, these kinds of cards will appear on your desktop browser. Like everything Google does, these Google Now cards are driven by search patterns and meta data. The things you search for on either your computer or mobile mix with Google's particular brand of information services alchemy at any given time, which determines how much attention Google pays to what parts of your searches.

Because the account you use is the same for your computer and mobile, when you search for something on your computer it can cause a card to pop up on your phone. This makes sense; you're more likely to be out purchasing things, looking for stores and restaurants, and otherwise needing guidance from your phone. Google Now can locate itself chronologically and geographically. Coupled with its “smart” use of your search data, it can provide you with suggestions and information in the form of Google Now cards in real time—or sometimes before you even consciously think about needing anything. The more likely you are to Google whenever you have a question, the better Google Now probably is at anticipating your questions.

How does it work? First you need a Google Now account (which is, of course, free). You can use your primary Google account for your Google Now account if you'd like; this ties the accounts together in convenient ways. Sign into Chrome with your Google Now account. If you are already a Google Now fan and you use it on multiple devices, realize that for now you will need to independently manage the location settings for each device.

Google Now shows you “cards” on your desktop or laptop now, but only if you are signed into Chrome and if you use Google Now on your mobile. Your desktop or laptop will see a subset of Google Now’s mobile cards including commuter traffic, event reminders, sports news and scores, and weather reports. Certain Google Now cards are location-based, so whether or not your mobile and computer are located near each other can impact how useful the particular card is to you.

If you want to use Chrome while you're signed in but find Google Now to be a little too much, turn it off like this:

1. Click the bell icon to open the Notifications Center.

2. Click the gear icon and uncheck the box next to “Google Now.”

For the time being, the computer version of Google Now works as a supplement for users of the mobile version. However, it seems likely that Google will continue to develop it, increasing its abilities vis-a-vis the bidirectional flow of information. This sort of improvement will assist Google in acquiring a clearer understanding of the overall computing lives of Google Now users. The addition of desktop/laptop data into the information services equation is likely to boost the performance of Google Now itself as well as other Google services reliant on meta data.