June 14, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
Google does search. Google does mobile. Google says its doing both more efficiently and quickly with an improved mobile search website.
Google has been rolling out a new website that gives “instant access” to common search tasks, such as finding nearby places to eat by tapping on a “Restaurants” icon that instantly brings up restaurants in the area. The same option is available for ATM’s, Bars, Gas Stations, Shops, and nearby attractions. It’s essentially a web-optimized version of Google Places that makes it easy to search from Google.com instead of launching the Android app.
Aside from the interface search changes, users should also notice a new feature known as Query Builder that provides a quick way to extend your search. A “+” button will appear when searching on Google.com that provides suggestions for your search, designed to refine terms and reduce typing. For instance, typing “Android ” might cause the search bar to suggest “android sdk,” and tapping the button once more will suggest “android sdk download.” I’ve been playing with the new website for a few minutes and found that there’s still some refinement necessary, but the basic concept works. Query builder can potentially decrease the amount of time someone keys in search terms and may provide suggestions likely to be more fruitful.
As useful as these new features may appear, Google will need to find some way to include these improvements in the built-in Android search function and not simply the mobile Google.com page. More than 95% of my mobile searches begin outside of the browser, and I’d wager that many of Android users often start their queries using the search widget or pressing the search button. The speed gained from Query builder is completely erased if the user must go to Google.com to use it.
Be on the look-out for more Google Search improvements on mobile devices. A tablet-optimized version will deliver better search for images and will format results to appear better on the larger screen.