Apple plans to unveil a deep search feature with iOS 9 next month. The feature, which is currently codenamed Proactive, has been in development for several years and will function a lot like Google Now, it's claimed.
According to 9to5Mac, Proactive is capable of leveraging data from Siri, Contacts, Calendar, Passbook, and third-party apps to automatically provide timely and relevant information based on your history and device-usage patterns (all while still maintaining your privacy preferences). Proactive therefore sounds like it'll be Apple's take on Google's Google Now assistant.
Proactive is actually considered by Apple to be an evolution of the Spotlight drop-down menu in iOS 8, which can search through the apps and content on your iOS device, but Apple wants the upcoming feature to be able to integrate much deeper than that and eventually become a new layer in iOS that'll replace Spotlight.
Adding Wikipedia search results to Spotlight in iOS 8 was the first step toward rolling out Proactive, in fact. Apple first began working on Proactive in 2013, with the acquisition of a personal assistant app called Cue. It embarked on this whole initiative with the goal of broadening Spotlight and Safari's search results - while also reducing its reliance on Google Search.
When Proactive fully launches, it will most likely live on the left of the Home Screen, where Spotlight could be accessed prior to the iOS 7 redesign. It will also have a dedicated Search Bar for you to access exisiting features of Spotlight (including the ability to search for names or launch apps, etc). But Proactive will be different in that it will display news stories as search results.
Proactive's interface will also live below the search bar and focus on displaying content from and related to Apps, Contacts, Maps, and an upgraded version of Siri. It will push notifications and integrate with core iOS apps as well, including Apple’s Maps, allowing it to display custom points of interest using a new augmented reality interface, among many other things.
The upcoming deep search feature will also integrate with basic apps like Facebook, meaning it might be able to surface a button for you to access Facebook every morning (if that's something you normally do). And yes, Proactive will display restaurant suggestions as well. Check out 9to5Mac's story for a round-up of all the other features expected to be built into Proactive.
Or, you can wait until Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference on 8 June, when iOS 9 should be shown for the first time. It's not yet definite if Proactive will fully launch with iOS 9 or continue to slowly roll out in bits and pieces.
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