Saturday, July 9, 2011

Android pro tip: Search with different apps

One of the best parts about using an Android smartphone is that there are so many seriously powerful things that the OS is capable of. An admittedly frustrating part of Android, however, is that not all of the cool features are immediately apparent and average users may not always discover them.

One such feature is app searching. Most Android phones have a dedicated search button right on the front. And even those that don't at least have a Google Search widget with launches the same search app. Pressing it brings up a search bar that lets you search through items on your phone, as well as search the whole Internet. By default, it searches through your apps, contacts, bookmarks, etc.

But that search can be customized to be much, much more powerful. With a few tweaks, you can pick which apps you want to be searchable right from the search button

To get started, push the search button on your device, or tap the widget if you don't have a button:

Now, instead of typing a search, tap the little blue g icon in the top left. You will now see a list of the applications you can search:

You can pick any one of these apps to perform a search just within that particular app, such as searching for a movie title on IMDb, or searching for something to buy on eBay. If you search for a particular term, you can even tap the icon of any app and whatever you typed will be preserved, allowing you to quickly check search results across apps just by tapping the icons:

To change which apps show up when you tap the g icon, tap the little settings icon in the initial app list:

This will bring up a huge list of all the apps you have installed that can be added or removed from your searchable apps popup:

And there you have it! With a few tiny little tweaks, you can seriously add some power and speed to the way you search. I personally use this feature all the time to quickly search within a specific app without needing to launch the app itself first. It definitely saves time, and makes that little search button on your phone all the more useful.