Google is today unveiling a new search feature designed to make it easier for users to find information and access certain tools.
Available only in the U.S. at first, the “tappable shortcuts” will be rolling out to the main Google app on Android and iOS and will also be accessible on the mobile web through Google.com. Google first debuted the feature in a beta version of the Android app earlier this year.
You’ll now see a handful of links beneath the main search bar, each offering direct access to contextual information such as sports results, entertainment, and weather. Android users can also tap a little arrow at the side to unearth a bunch more shortcuts, covering location-based tidbits such as nearby restaurants and bars, and tools such as Google Translate, games, and an internet speed test.
It’s basically a little app launcher with the spirit of Google Now at its core, one that negates the need to type — this is all geared toward tapping. Rather than searching for “movies playing near me,” you can hit the Entertainment tab to see what’s playing in a nearby theater or what’s on TV. Or instead of typing in “weather,” you have a little weather icon right there.
It doesn’t appear as though the main shortcut tabs beneath the search box are customizable, however, and you will have to tap to see additional options beyond weather, entertainment, sports, and eat & drink. It would be nice if users could select their favorite shortcuts to appear under the main search box. However, Google does say that additional shortcuts may appear for other newsworthy events.
This latest rollout follows a long line of updates designed to ensure that relevant content and tools are “front and center” on Google’s services. The company displays a ton of information on the main Google Search portal, bypassing the need to click on burdensome links, and now includes song lyrics, health information, nutrition data, and translations.