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Google Now updated to feature third-party cards showing non-Google services

Virtual assistant Google Now has been updated to include over 30 third-party cards, showing information, updates and notifications from non-Google services.

It is the first move from Google to diversify content on Google Now, allowing third-party services to create Google Now cards and integrate voice search.

Airbnb, Instacart, Pandora and Lyft are just a few of the cards available, all offering different notifications. Google will review all cards submitted and is working on a very closed door basis for now, unlike the current autonomous review process on Android.

The new move could bring more Google Now adoption, steering users away from checking individual apps. For now, app developers seem optimistic this will only bring more interest to their service.

It could also bring more interest to Android Wear, since applications are not usable on the smaller display. Having this card based system will give users the opportunity to read notifications on a smartwatch, without having to a pull out their phone.

Google has been ahead of Apple for a while with Siri, integrating a vast amount of information from Google search and other sources onto their own virtual assistant, but Microsoft's Cortana is showing a new side of artificial intelligence.

This has made Google more active on the virtual assistant battle, launching Google Now on desktop and Chromebooks to compete with Cortana's integration on Windows 10.

Virtual assistants could be a large lock-in to a certain platform, but Apple's Siri has so far been underwhelming. Apple has also not worked with third-parties on Siri, and it currently has no interface to show notifications like Google Now or Cortana.

David has been a technology journalist for over six years, covering a wide range of sectors. He currently researches apps, app sectors and app markets for Business of Apps, and has written for ITProPortal, RTInsights, ReadWrite, and Digital Trends.