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40 third-party apps coming to Google Now

We had heard rumors that Google was thinking of opening up Google Now to third-party apps, and it’s just been made official — the digital assistant is adding support for 40 apps, including Pandora, Lyft, TripAdvisor, eBay and RunKeeper. The idea is that key information from these apps will pop up in Google Now at the right time without you having to remember to open them.

“Starting today, the Google app on Android can help you keep up with all the good stuff in 40 different apps  at a glance,” writes Google’s Aparna Chennapragada in a blog post. “It’ll bring you Now cards to help you out with your day-to-day life, giving you information that’s helpful to you, right when you need it.” Google says there are plans to extend the functionality further in the future, so stay tuned if you want to see your favorite app integrated.

Some of the example Now cards shown off on the official Google site include songs that have recently been Shazammed, items that have recently been ordered on Instacart, language lessons in progress inside Duolingo and important budget alerts on Mint. Don’t forget that Google Now is also a key part of the Android Wear experience, so related updates for the wrist-based software are likely to be on the way as well.

Google Now is integrated in the Google app for iOS, but it sounds like the new third-party support is going to be limited to the Android version of the app for the time being — that’s probably due to the low-level integration required between apps and operating system to make this kind of functionality work. The developers involved in the program have updated their code to specifically support Google Now and surface the right information at the right time (when your flight’s about to depart, and so on).

With Microsoft pushing Cortana integration in Windows 10, digital assistant apps continue to be a significant selling point in the mobile and desktop OS markets. Google Now has slowly been adding features over time and now covers everything from recently updated websites to events mentioned in email messages — third-party app integration should make it even more useful to Android users.