Google has just unveiled a new feature for Android that shows just how much the company is still ahead in the search business. Searching on the Google Search Android app, as well as on Chrome and Android browsers, will now yield results that traverse not only the web but also the third-party apps you have already installed on your phone.
In effect, this new feature bridges the worlds of web search and Android apps. Users will soon be able to say goodbye to the rather time-consuming process of combing through different locations to look for a particular piece of information, especially if you don’t know exactly where to look. Now they can just simply use Google’s powerful search capabilities and if the search result can be found in an app that’s already installed on your Android device, it will say so. It will even be smart enough to recommend the appropriate app related to your query in a dedicated app section of the results page.
From the looks of it, Google seems to simply associate results with content that the app provides from a Web service, though there is nothing stopping Google from searching content stored inside the app as well. At the moment, only a limited number of third-party apps support the feature, such as IMDb, Newegg, Trulia, Etsy, Wikipedia and others. App developers will have to add the feature into their apps themselves before they show up as search results.
The new Google Search feature on Android won’t be widely available yet. Other than requiring Android 2.3 and higher, which thankfully covers majority of Android devices today, the feature also has limited regional coverage. For now, it will only be accessible for users in the US using English in their language settings. It may take a day or two for search results to display the “Open in app” button after installing the supported app.