Today Google announced universal search suggestions on the mobile version of their search page. It has been enabled on all major smartphone platforms, so even our iPhone carrying “friends” should be able to partake.
Google first made this change on the desktop version of the search page back in December, and while it was neat, I can’t say I’ve really played with it since it was released. This probably has more to do with the fact that I just control+K to the search bar in Firefox or Chrome rather than visit the search page itself. If you missed the original announcement, universal suggestive search provides real time information in the drop down box that appears when you begin typing, in addition to the regular search term suggestions. The idea being that if you were to type in ‘weather houston’, it would provide you with the weather right in the box, rather than you having to go through the hassle of pressing enter, then clicking on a link from the results page (gasp!).
I’ve played around with the mobile version for a bit, and I must say that it's quite helpful. Little tweaks like this make a lot of sense in the mobile browsing environment where you may already be frustrated with latency and awkward typing, and anything that can save a few clicks is valuable.
While I appreciate that universal suggestive search is available in the browser, I’d really like to see Google integrate it into the Android Google search widget. I’ve been using Searchify to provide similar capabilities in Android’s built-in search, but an official solution would be a plus. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see it crop up in the near future (I’m looking at you, FroYo).
In total, there are supposedly 10 keywords you can use to take advantage of this for the desktop, 7 of which I was able to use on the mobile version. You can find the complete list, with examples, and a few screenshots of my experience with the update below.
- Unit Conversions. Example: Entering “1 oz in cups” will provide you with the conversion of 1 fluid ounce into cups
- Flight Tracking. Example: Entering “AA 1” will show you the latest flight stats for American Airlines flight 1
- Local Time. Example: Entering “local time london” will give you the local time in London
- Area Codes. Example: Entering “area codes houston” will provide you with a list of area codes for that locale. In this case it seemed to fetch the results from a random dating site (though they were accurate)
- Calculator. Example: Entering “2*16” will provide you with the answer.
- Currency Conversion. Example: Entering “1 dollar to pounds” will provide you with the exchange rate for dollars to pounds.
- Local Weather. Example: Entering "weather houston" will show the weather in Houston, TX, along with a little weather icon