In an apparent effort to boost app discoverability and engagement, it looks like Google is rolling out a beautiful new layout for "apps" search results on mobile. Doing a quick search for pretty much anything followed by the word "apps" will get you a grid of app results above the normal search results, each block colored according to the app's icon. Clicking the "expand" button opens up the grid, with more results smoothly flowing in. Check it out in motion below.
Worth noting is that these results seem to only appear on Android for now - the download numbers and ratings of course reflect Play Store stats, and each block will take you to the relevant Play Store listing.
Another long design test appears to be drawing to a close for Google. After apparently beginning a wider rollout for the new mobile search UI (in testing since April), it seems that Google is making the revised image results UI final too.
This layout has been popping up since at least May, with a brighter, more crisp interface that offers more iconography, refined typography, and - yes - a section for related images.
Google is no stranger to testing new features or design tweaks on its live products, and search has been receiving quite a bit of attention lately. It doesn't necessarily come as a surprise, then, to see new design tweaks appearing for some users in Google's image search results.
The new design, which so far appears to be in very limited testing, offers a brighter layout for individual images - the background is a light #eeeeee as opposed to the solid black seen in its current iteration, and there's a relocated "close" button along with a new way to show image details.
In the current layout (as you'll see below), details are behind an overflow button.
Google has been testing lots of tweaks for its mobile search engine results page lately. We've seen colored underlines on results cards and a rather pleasing new layout for the search bar and associated tools, and now a few users are reporting something a little strange - colored dots. We've received multiple reports of search result cards with four dots (colored with Google's signature blue, green, yellow, and red) in the lower right corner.
The colored dots, if you're wondering, didn't seem to do anything when tapped for our original tipsters, but reader Ali notes below that the dots do seem to work just like tapping on the card's URL.
A relatively small Google Maps update to v9.8 began rolling out last week, adding batch photo uploads and a way to restrict bookings from showing up in location screens. It turns out there was another secret feature waiting to be shown off. In the latest version, a search for one of four key phrases will pop up results related to your personal bookings. Just try asking for my events, my flights, my hotels, or my reservations to see a short list of personalized results.
This functionality is new to Google Maps on Android (confirmed with v9.7.1), but it's not exactly fresh to Google.
Search, as the foundational product Google is known for, is obviously something the company is very thoughtful of when it comes to design. Even small changes can cause a big impact on user experience and engagements, so Google is careful about how design tweaks are implemented.
One common method of testing and easing into (or out of) design tweaks is A/B testing (something we recently saw Google experimenting with in the Google+ app). Today, it looks like Google has begun an experiment on its search engine results page when users search from Chrome on mobile devices. Rather than show results in a lineup, separated by gray lines, Google is playing with a layout that puts each result on its own card, underscored by a line colored to match one of Google's four primary brand colors - blue, green, yellow, and red.
The folks over at Laptop Mag have undertaken a test that really piques our interest. The results show that T-Mobile smartphones consistently get the best battery life among the big four US carriers. The difference isn't insignificant either. We're talking about a steady gap of up to three hours, depending on the phone.
In the chart below we see variation between the 2013 and 2014 versions of Samsung and HTC's flagships. The starkest void is noticeable on the S4, where T-Mobile pulled in 6 hours and 42 minutes compared to the 4 hours and 1 minute of the second-place competitor, AT&T.
At Google I/O last week, Google announced Project Volta, its effort to change and drastically improve how Android manages battery life. Since then the folks over at Ars Technica have downloaded the publicly available L developer preview build and put it through its paces. Is there a noticeable difference? Yes, apparently. They were able to get an an extra two hours of battery life out of their Nexus 5, an improvement of thirty-six percent. Regardless of how exact these numbers are, the difference suggests good things.
For the process, Ars used a single device, flashed to 4.4.4, signed in, updated apps, charged up, and ran the test (which keeps the screen on and automatically loads a webpage over Wi-Fi every 15 seconds until the battery dies).
Several days ago, it was brought to our attention that Google's Search app finally allowed completely touchless reminders, whereby a user could set a reminder from start to finish without touching the device. Previously, reminders required a touch confirmation at the end of the process. Now, the "voice of Google" simply asks if the user would like the reminder to be set. Saying "yes" will complete the interaction.
It seems this isn't the only server-side switch Google is pulling, though. For a while now, we've been getting tips that the Search app has been returning app results in an interface a little different from the old vertical list view.
It looks like Google isn't done adding goodies to the latest round of updates for the official Search app. The hotword for activating the voice search function is now "Ok Google," and it also works while looking at results, not just from the standard search screen. You'll need Search 2.8.7 (grab the APK here if you don't have it yet) and an updated English (US) language pack to see the new functionality.
We spotted the hotword-from-results feature in a teardown of a previous Search APK. Using the feature is pretty simple. Do a standard voice or keyboard search, then say "Ok Google" from the results page to begin a new voice search.