Search has always been a big part of Android, and for many things, Google's built-in solution works fine. If you're looking for a better way to search through your data in the cloud, look no further than CloudMagic. The app does take a bit of setup, but once you're in, CloudMagic assists you in digging through your data in a very compelling way.
Setting Up CloudMagic
CloudMagic does not just exist on your phone. This is a service that you are granting access to your data, and it requires you to create an account to manage all those connections. After you get logged into CloudMagic itself, you have to add your services. You can do so from the application settings, and you can also remove or re-authorize services if you change your login credentials.
CloudMagic ties in with Google Docs, Gmail, Contacts, and Google Calendar, but it isn't pulling any data from the phone itself. When you add your Google account, the app sends you to an embedded browser window to grant access to your Google data. The same is true when you add a Twitter account, which is also integrated with CloudMagic. If you use Exchange or Office365, CloudMagic can index that as well.
Provided you don't have long, obnoxious (but secure) passwords to type into Twitter and Google, setup won't cause you too many headaches. However, it does feel clunky. The upshot is that once you've added services to CloudMagic, they are attached to your account and you don't have to worry about managing them further.
When you open the app after getting your accounts added, it will look very familiar. CloudMagic is a dead ringer for Google's pre-Android 4.0 search interface. The text field is at the top along with an icon that, when pressed, lets you restrict the search to certain kinds of data like mail or tweets. You also get a voice input button, which is appreciated.
When you do your first search, it's hard not to smile a little and murmur something about the name being accurate. CloudMagic pulls up results from your connected accounts supernaturally fast. As you type, in less than a second in my testing, you get the top five results in each service that match your search.
CloudMagic lays results out in a scrollable list below the search field, each section with a floating header that stays at the top of the screen as you scroll down. In each section, there is a line after the initial five results to load more. This list might not be the most attractive interface, but it’s definitely functional. I saw no hesitation in scrolling on the Galaxy Nexus.
I was concerned that tapping on a search result would simply shunt me off to the browser, thus limiting the usefulness of CloudMagic. Happily, the app actually gives you a built-in landing page for each result, complete with added functionality. For example, if you tap a Twitter result, you get a preview of the tweet, as well as options to reply, retweet, favorite, and direct message the account.
It's a very good thing that CloudMagic offers real options for managing your data in the search results, but it does bury most functionality behind the traditional menu button. I would have liked to see the action bar implemented on Android 4.0 -- this is exactly the kind of scenario it was designed for.
When you sign up for CloudMagic from your phone, you aren't just configuring an app on a mobile device. Head over to the CloudMagic website and you can do the same searches you were just doing on the phone. The web interface offers better overview of your search results, largely because of the additional screen real estate, but the links are also more useful. Instead of sticking everything in a hidden menu, the content-aware links are out in the open. CloudMagic is also available as a browser plug-in for both Chrome and Firefox.
CloudMagic does a good job of taking all the data you have in various services and bringing it together in one search interface. The speed of the search is impressive and that's the real selling point of the app. The fact that CloudMagic is a true cross-platform system that you can access from the desktop in addition to the Android app is also a bonus.
Despite the great functionality, the interface of CloudMagic is feeling a little dated now. It should either adopt the Android 4.0 Holo interface, or get an entirely new design -- the Gingerbread look just isn't doing it any favors. The addition of Facebook searches would also be much appreciated.