Opening up the ecosystem, Google lets other apps ping you helpful alerts

If you’ve come to rely on Google Now’s helpful, context-sensitive alerts to get you through your day, you might’ve wondered why the function was limited to Google’s own services. No more!

Google has finally opened the doors to Google Now, and is allowing third-party apps the ability to improve your mobile experience with useful, predictive cards. The Wall Street Journal has the full scoop on the change, which is supposed to go live today starting on Android first.

Some 40 top third-party options are already live with the newfound abilities, and it’s likely that many of your day-to-day favorites are in the mix. Waze, Pandora Radio, Lyft, Runtastic, and The Guardian are all there, delivering added functionality for users with the app installed once the Google Now update starts rolling out shortly.

If you arrive at an airport, Lyft will be ready to send you a card about hailing a ride, Kayak will keep you in the loop on dropping travel prices, and Airbnb will remind you of rental spots you were looking at, perhaps pushing you to finally book that weekend getaway. Apps like The Guardian and Economist, meanwhile, can ping you when new articles go live.

No personal data collected by Google Now will go through to third-party developers, and the app’s Now card itself can’t even collect the location data that might’ve triggered it. But if you tap the card and launch the app (in other words, if you engage), the third-party developer can track whatever data it normally does at that point.

It’s a small starting pool of available apps, but we imagine that many more will be eager to join the party very soon. With luck, the coming flood of third-party cards won’t make Now more nuisance than appreciated life companion.

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