Google Now adds car rentals, concert tickets and college football scores

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Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is updating its Now personal assistant service, highlighted by support for car rentals and concert tickets.

Google Now, launched in mid-2012 in association with the Android 4.1 mobile operating system update, presents a series of virtual "cards" containing information about local weather, traffic, events and nightlife, each automatically generated in relation to a user's present whereabouts and the time of day. The service now includes a car rentals card enabling users to access reservation details and directions to the rental center, complementing existing cards for airline boarding passes and hotel reservations.

Google Now also presents digital concert tickets when users arrive at their venue, additionally suggesting locally relevant websites. New commuter enhancements include an improved public transit card that reminds users about the last bus or train home, as well as a commute sharing card that alerts friends and family when the traveler is heading home.

The Google Now update additionally brings real-time NCAA football scoring updates, an updated TV card with expanded information on news cited and music played in the program the user is currently viewing, and reminders connected to searches for recording artists, actors, filmmakers and TV series.

Google expanded Now from Android to rival Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS mobile operating system in late April, challenging Apple's own Siri voice assistant technology. At that time, Google Now Product Manager Tamar Yehoshua told CNet that Google Now's own voice recognition technology has made significant strides since launch: "We've seen a 15 to 35 percent improvement since Jelly Bean [Android 4.1]," she said.

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