With a new search app update for iOS, Google has added trending searches and instant answers. (TechCrunch noticed it earlier today.) It replicates a previously introduced Android feature which reportedly resulted in an outcry, causing Google to enable an opt-out.
In the “what’s new” discussion in the iOS App Store, Google says:
- See searches that are trending around you when you tap on the search box to start a search
- Get instant answers to your questions as you type them, before you even complete the search. Try it out by typing for “goog stock” or “how tall is the eiffel tower” and see the answer show up in the suggestions below the search box
- Easily give feedback on any suggestions you see while typing — just swipe left and tap on the “info” icon
Here’s what it looks like:
The trending searches appear to be national rather than specific to my location. The data appear to be Knowledge Graph data, but it’s not consistent — answers don’t always appear to factual questions — or as rich as the Google Answer Box, which appears after the search is actually entered.
Apple offers a somewhat richer version of instant answers with its Spotlight Search on Safari, though there’s no trending data.
Trending searches will be interesting to some people. Others will be indifferent; still others may be horrified (“Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte”). If they were truly local queries, it would be more interesting to me.
Instant answers has some utility for quick facts. But it’s now faster, easier and more efficient to use voice search or Google Home, if you have one. I can ask for the time in London or “what’s the population of the United States?” much more quickly with my voice than my phone keyboard.
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