Search has always been a core component of Android — the OS is made by Google, after all. But one of the coolest tricks of the system has been reserved for Google's own launcher and widget: the ability to search through both your own apps and web search results at once. That capability may be coming to all launchers and apps in the near future, according to developer documentation for Android 12.
Google's Play Store may have a new problem that is affecting app discoverability for many developers. Over the last two months or so, some developers have been claiming that their applications aren't surfacing in the Play Store's search results as they should, with some apps that accrued hundreds of thousands of installs not even appearing in direct searches for that app's name. Thankfully, new reports within the last twenty-four hours indicate that some kind of fix may be rolling out, resolving the issue for some developers.
F-Droid, the most popular open-source app store, got a rather significant facelift last May and was further refined with the release of v1.0 in October. Now it's been updated to v1.1, which brings privacy preferences, search enhancements, UI improvements, bug fixes, and more.
A fresh beta update just started rolling out for the Google app, popping the version number up to 6.1. There aren't many immediately obvious changes with this release, but it does contain a switch that will allow users to turn off trending searches in their area. But if you're looking for some potentially exciting new things, a teardown reveals the first physical pieces of the recently announced Google Assistant. There are also a couple bits related to deep search for apps and background retry for failed searches.
One of our readers spotted this neat trick in the latest update to the Google Now Launcher (which is part of the primary Google app). A single tap on the app drawer icon will open the app drawer as usual, but a long-press will open it and immediately highlight the app search field. It will also automatically open your default virtual keyboard, quickly and easily allowing you to type and search for apps.
This is especially handy for those users who keep dozens (or hundreds) of apps on their phones. Check out the animation below to see it in action:
The long-press function is only available in the latest versions of the Google App.
Android TV has a serious app discovery problem, and it's the built-in "leanback" version of the Google Play Store. Before today, the Play Store on your TV only showed curated apps selected by the powers that be at Google, so between the video, audio, and game sections, there were less than two hundred apps on display for users. You might get the impression that these were the only Android TV apps available - the rest had to be manually searched for in the search function of the main leanback launcher.
With version 5.5.15, that finally changes. New sections of the Android TV Google Play Store are now visible beneath the curated portion, and based on a quick run-through, it looks like every compatible app for your ATV device is exposed.
Nova Launcher is easily the top pick for conventional Android home screen replacements, and a "daily driver" for a good chunk of Android Police's staff. The latest update added a Material Design user interface, but there are other goodies hiding just below the surface. For example, version 4.0 includes a simple app search function hidden in the app drawer. It's especially handy if you've got hundreds of installed apps (like Artem) or just don't like organizing your apps into folders (like everyone else).
To activate the search bar, just drag down from anywhere in the app drawer. It's the same gesture used to refresh the page or service in some Google apps.