Apple is developing a competitor to Google Now, according to a new report from 9to5Mac’s Mark Gurman. The system is apparently codenamed “Proactive,” and will leverage the company’s suite of iOS apps, including Siri, Contacts, Calendar and Passbook, as well as a host of third-party apps to provide iPhone and iPad owners with timely information based on how they use their devices.
Where it will differ significantly from Google Now is with the inclusion of an augmented reality component. According to Gruman’s sources, Proactive will work with the company’s Maps application and an augmented reality interface to display interesting and relevant local information. He also says that Proactive will replace the current pulldown implementation of Spotlight; on that note, accessing Proactive will be done by swiping to the left of the main home screen, though that may change by the time the service launches.
Once they’re on the Proactive screen, users will see a search field that will work much like the current Spotlight. Underneath search, though, is where things become interesting. This section of the screen will be populated with information pulled from a variety of sources within iOS, including first and third-party apps, as well as one’s contacts and the Maps maps, and will provide users with the ability to act upon the information the system displays. For example, Proactive may see that the user has an appointment within their Calendar app and will provide a map with directions, estimated time of arrival and details on any disruptions that may delay the user.
Beyond the usual calendar and maps plugins systems of this type usually have, Proactive will also react to a person’s app usage. The example Gruman gives is of a person that opens Facebook when they wake up in the morning. In this case, Proactive will note that usage and provide a widget in the morning for that user to quickly get into Facebook.
Many of the features Proactive leverages rely heavily on Apple’s own Maps app, which is well know to have its share of issues. The company has apparently invested significant time, energy and money into improving the app.
Proactive may be announced as marquee feature of iOS 9 at next month’s Worldwide Developer Conference. Previous reports on what to expect from iOS 9 suggested that Apple’s plan was to focus on improving the performance and stability of the operating system before introducing significant new features. Apple executives are apparently not in agreement whether the company should launch Proactive as a single feature all in one go, or whether it should be released incrementally.