"Proactive" to turn iOS Spotlight into Google Now rival

Despite many hailing Siri to be exponentially better than Google's equivalent voice-controlled feature, it seems that Apple might be taking a few pages from Google Now's book in future iOS releases. Dubbed "Proactive", the initiative is tipped to turn iOS Spotlight, the lesser known search feature on mobile, into something that mimics and might even surpass Google Now's functionality on Android. This means more timely and relevant search results and information and even deep app indexing that will let users jump right into an app's particular screen or function.

Like on Mac OS X, Spotlight on iOS focuses mainly on searching. Already a feature since iOS 7, Apple augmented the search functionality in iOS 8 by adding Wikipedia results. According to insiders, this has actually reduced the amount of Google clicks on iOS 8. That said, Google Now does have one thing Spotlight doesn't have, at least not yet. It can show relevant information in cards, like upcoming appointments, flight reminders, or news, without the user having to search for anything yet.

The Proactive initiative, then, tries to address that limitation in Spotlight. While it will still work with search normally, it will also present users with pertinent information gathered from apps, contacts, calendars, and maps. And while it seems Spotlight will still be available by swiping from the top of the homescreen, Apple is said to be considering putting the Proactive Spotlight on the leftmost page of the homescreen. Pretty much like where Google Now is located in the Google Now Launcher for Android.

The initiative, however, goes beyond what Google Now currently offers. There is talk of an souped up Maps app with a tinge of augmented reality for interesting locations, a bit like Yelp but using an in-house point of interest system still under development. Spotlight and Siri are also said to be more powerful, being able to dive into specific portions of apps, like a specific playlist in Music, via a feature codenamed "Breadcrumbs". This functionality is quite similar to Google's App Indexing on Android. It is also a potential cause for privacy concerns, which is why Breadcrumbs is said to only be a limited version for third party developers.

That said, the caveat to all of these juicy new features is that they are, for now, unverified leaks. Even the sources themselves caution that not all of these features might land in iOS 9, which is expected to be announced at WWDC in June. Apple executives, in particular, are said to be quite wary of dumping all of these features all at once on users and would prefer to release them bit by bit, improving them in successive releases.

VIA: 9to5Mac