In Short

Google serves up information before you even know you need it.

Google Now is one of the more ambitious evolutions of Google's search software. The idea is simple — predict what you'll want or need to know before you know you need or want it, and serve it up in an easy-to-read format. And the execution has been excellent.

Announced at Google I/O in June 2012, it quickly became apparent that Google had big plans for Google Now. For one, it launched the "card design" movement for Android, something you see in any number of products now. And while using your voice with your Android phone had been around for some time, Google Now took it to a whole new level, akin to Apple's Siri.

And starting with Android 4.4 KitKat, Google Now became a part of the home screen launcher itself, tucked away on the far-left. It's not on every device — HTC and Samsung still do their own thing, for example. (And in the exact same spot.) Motorola does things a little different with its Moto X as well, employing full-on voice control, without having to hit the power button first to wake the phone. If you hear someone saying "OK, Google" or "OK, Google Now," you know why.

So what can Google Now do for you? The list is ever-expanding. But it'll show you upcoming appointments. Or tell you when you need to leave to get to that appointment on time. Or it'll give you a preview of your route, with one-button navigation. Or it'll show you friends' birthdays. Or stock quotes. Or weather information. Or news on topics you recently searched for. Or sports scores. ... And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Google Now is growing. Get ready.