Google overhauled the design and features of its browser-based web apps, as you might have already noticed if you’re using an Android smartphone in particular. These changes are happening alongside the Google+ roll-out, which has given Google an opportunity to update several of its apps, including those on mobile devices. Google has always been known to be consistency with regards to update roll-outs, especially when it comes to search. That’s why it was so important for Google to leverage HTML5 to present a uniform interface on supported devices, covering both Android and iOS.
The handset search update was followed by an announcement Friday that iOS and Android 3.1 and up devices, meaning tablets, will experience the search upgrade as well. Unlike the previous applications, HTML5 powers the update for the tablet, boosting both functionality and aesthetics.
“We’ve simplified the layout of search results pages and increased the size of page contents like text, buttons, and other touch targets to make it faster and easier to browse and interact with search results in portrait or landscape view,” Google justified.
“The search button located below the search box provides quick access to specific types of results like Images, Videos, Places, Shopping, and more. Just tap to open the search menu and select an option to see results in one category,” the search giant went on.
In addition, Google greatly improved its image results by enlarging image previews, enabling continuous scrolls, and faster loading of image thumbnails. Sponsored results still top search results, but the white space in between results is now bigger, and the text size has been increased, making it easier to read search results. The features will be available on iPad and Android 3.1+ tablets, across 36 languages.
Design aside, functionality has greatly improved too. There’s a new tool below the search bar, marked as search. If you press it, Google.com will drop down a menu with a list of ways to filter your results. These are the categories you already know and live, spanning Images, Videos, Shopping, News, YouTube and a bunch of others. You will also see small icons that will help you visually scan through these search filters.
Overall, the overhauled Google tablet search is a major leap from its previous version. It’s smarter and more visually appealing. It’s an important update, as mobile search increases in user activity. The use of connected devices has spurred increases in use and frequency of search tools, up 16% in the last 12 months, according to recent reports. And as rivals look to overtake Google in search efforts, mobile is a particularly important battleground to ward off Microsoft Bing and others.
Google may be steadily updating its mobile apps, but its mobile platform is under fire. The search giant has been especially struggling with regard to patents. In its brawl with Oracle, Microsoft and Apple, Google’s hoping for a court win of its own, as the Department of Justice investigates the group that formed and outbid Google on the Nortel patent sale.
Apart from lawsuits, Google’s hard at work at developing a decision engine with practical use cases. Google announced a collaboration with German IT company SAP over integrated enterprise analytics and location-based data capabilities to help business reach better decisions. And while Google is rejoicing over the new partnership, Facebook is grinning over the dwindling traffic of its competitor Google+.