August 30, 2014

New Mobile Search Features from Google

Google rolled out a couple of handy new features on its mobile-optimized site late yesterday, making it easier to access search results on your phone that you generated previously on your desktop or laptop.

GoogleMobile1The first is Local Search for Mobile. When you visit Google on your phone and tap the Local tab, you’ll now find browseable categories, including one called “Starred Places.”

Starred Places syncs up with locations that you’ve starred in Google Maps on your desktop or laptop. So, for example, you can research a vacation destination, starring places you’d like to visit, and then easily access that list of places once you’re there.

The other categories (like Restaurants, Shopping, etc.) allow you to drill down to yellow-pages-style results without ever typing a word. So, for example, tapping Restaurants, then Barbeque, found me a nearby place to get some tasty ribs for lunch.

Mmmm, ribs…I like them to have a little chew, kind of al dente if you will, with a dark, spicy bark on the outside…But I digress.

Google Personalized SuggestThe other new feature, Personalized Suggest, simply means that your mobile and desktop search histories are now synced up. From what I can tell, this does not work with Android’s built in Google search widget– only in the browser. But I do see where it could be handy:

For example, suppose that before I depart for the airport, I quickly check my flight status by searching for “american airlines 19″ using google.com on my computer. Later, as I am hailing a taxi in rush hour traffic, I can open google.com on my phone, click in the search box, and choose “american airlines 19″ from the list of search suggestions!

All in all, small tweaks, but ones I can see coming in handy. I’d like to see them integrated with Android– the search widget and the Places Directory app, for example–but perhaps that’s coming.