It does seem a little disingenuous for el reg to criticize apps for sending information to Google when the page containing such criticism is running Google Analytics.
Frankly, I find Google Now to be helpful. It's nice to know when to leave for an appointment, and since I placed the appointment in my Google Calendar, the fact Google knows about it doesn't usually come as a surprise. When my flight details are emailed to my gmail account, either I can read the message in gmail or I can read the same details in another format in Google Now.
If I didn't want it, I wouldn't have opted in. If I decide I don't want it, I can opt out.
Sure, there are privacy concerns, but they are more fundamental than Google. There are plenty of ad networks out there who are silently building treasure troves of personal information and delivering little or nothing in return. Apple may not be selling user data directly, but they're certainly collecting it. As are Amazon, Microsoft, Doubleclick and so many others.
These are issues that will take legislation to address. Stopping using Google would only solve a tiny bit of the problem.