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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Google Search App for iPhone [Review]

As we reported earlier, the Google Mobile App for iPhone is now Google Search. Apart from the change in the name, Google has also made some great changes under the hood. To be honest, I have had the Google Mobile app on my iPhone for quite some time but I never really use it. The Google Search in Safari takes care of all my needs. However, the new features in the updated app might bring a change in the habits of iPhone users.

The redesigned UI and homepage will really please the Apple users who are used to intuitive and minimal interfaces. Talking of intuitive, Google has done a really great job of including help on every page. In fact, the help screen overlay launches automatically the first time you launch the app. Detailed screenshots after the break.
New swipe gestures allow you to quickly filter search results. The app also shows you unread Gmail count. However, the fact that tapping on it throws you out of the app and launches Safari, still leaves something to be desired for.

New Design & In-built Quick Help

The new homescreen is very minimal much like Google’s homepage. You can perform searches by typing in the search bar, tap on Microphone to do a voice search or tap the camera to use Google Googles.
The help screen launched automatically the first time I Launched the app. You can also launch it on any page by manually tapping on the ? mark at the bottom.
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This is a great approach as compared to conventional instructions on a separate page.

New Gestures & Search Filters

After searching you can swipe to the right to quickly bring up filters and swipe down to see the search bar and change any settings. Actually, all search features can still be accessed without bringing it down, so the latter is something you are only occasionally going to use.
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Apps & Gmail Unread Count

The Apps are now tucked under the hood and can be accessed by tapping on the Apps at the bottom of the screen. You can also display the unread count of Gmail messages at the bottom once you Sign in. This feature is turned off by default and needs to be switched on first from the Settings page.
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While you can browse search results from within the app, here is what I find lacking:
  • Tapping on Gmail will bring up Safari. High time Google designed a native app
  • No Instant previews. Google enabled this recently for both iPhones & Android. I have recently started using it a lot and wonder how Google forgot to add it here.
Google has included the ability to resume from where you last left. So, once the call gets over you can get back to the search you were making. While it’s great to have this, we can’t give Google a lot of points on this in particular, after seeing so many multitasking enabled apps for iOS 4.
Overall, the new interface is likeable and easier to use than before. You should give it a try. Get it from the App Store here.


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