Right before the avalanche of Android O news yesterday, Google made one small announcement that we had our eyes on but never really got around to writing: Search shortcuts are now official.
You may remember we first spotted them last September when they had a very distinct circular look, then we saw a newer iteration in November when the circle was ditched but the icons began opening up to more actions, and finally this most recent look started popping up in our tips inbox over the past few weeks. So some of you may already have seen the new Search shortcuts over the last weeks, others will probably start seeing them now.
Basically, this is Google's way of putting everything it can do, from giving you sports scores and TV schedules to weather updates, tip calculations, translations, and tons of bonus features like the coin flip, die roll, level tool, bundled games (including tic-tac-toe and solitaire), in one easily accessible interface. It's all about discoverability. No more guessing what you can do in Search or trying to find the right words to launch a hidden feature, everything is now grouped in an icon list.
Google says these shortcuts will start showing up in the US first in the Google app for Android and iOS as well as Google.com on mobile browsers. They appear right below the search box and will sometimes display icons for big moments and events in the future, to save you from having to search for them first.