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Google Search on iPad - App Review
The iPad comes with a standard search built into the product called spotlight. Until recently I thought this was a really awesome idea, much like my Android phone there is a search bar that can search everything from my contacts to my email to even the web. But there was a major flaw in this set up, mainly it being that since the search bar is not in itself connected to the internet running searches through it were time consuming and annoying because it would have to load Safari and then go to Google and then preform the search. Since installing the new Google Chrome app on my iPad I thought there would be no need to try out the Google Search app. On a whim I downloaded it and don't think I can go back to spotlight.
This app has such a beautiful design, as does most things that Google makes. It loads with the most basic and clean set up with the big colorful "Google" A very large search bar and even options at the bottom for "History" "Applications" "Voice" and "Goggles" (I will go into those later). At the top of the screen you are able to log into your Google account which will make sense when we talk about the Applications.
When you create a search Google like it does on the computer will offer suggested searches as you type which can create faster serfing. But the major selling point I think is the fact what when you make a search and select a site to look at, unlike spotlight which has to launch a third party app, Google has included in this app a browser and a very nice looking one at that. When you select a site from the right side of the screen a new "Tab" slides on with a blue bar that runs across the top to tell you when the page is fully loaded. And Google has pulled out all the stops. The way that Google created chrome was to make a browser that was clean and simple and gave you more screen space and less stuff at the top like Firefox or IE have. The kept that idea with this app.
The tab starts about an inch and a half away from the left side of the screen leaving the Google name visible so if you want to go back quickly all you do is tap there and the tab will slide back out of site. Then there are the back, forward and reload buttons these are used so that you can go back to the site you just looked at in your search or reload the page that you are on. Since this is not a browser perse there is no URL bar just the title of the site you are looking at. Then there are three more buttons. The send button that allows you to open the page you are looking at in Safari (but lets be honest why would you want to do something like that?) or share by email. The next button is the Google +1 button which allows you to +1 the site that you are looking at (its like the "like" button on Facebook for those of you who are not well versed in Google lingo). And finally there is a button that looks like a search, this button allows you to search for text within the page that you are looking at. Now for any one that opens a website when they are looking for something specific and there are pages and pages of text, this little icon is a God sent.
Ease of Access
Google has been known for making things easy to use. This app is just so intuative and the motions used to move around it feel so natural.
Say I made a search and I want to go back to the list of results from the site I opened, all you have to do is swipe with one finger to the right and the page will move with your finger until it is off screen. If you want to bring the page back from in the search results then all you have to do is swipe to the left and the page will come right back.
To view history you have two options.
Option #1: From the search results that you are looking at you can swipe to the right like you do to go from a page to the results and they will appear.
To get to the home screen of the app without exiting and relaunching if you just tap the Google name next to the search bar it will take you to the home page.
Option #2: From the home page of the app hit the history icon and the same history page will appear.
What applications could there possibly be in a search app. Its Google and they want to make your life as simple as possible so they have pulled all the things that you know and love about Google into one very nice looking app.
When you tap the applicaitons icon which is a little 3D box both on the home screen or from the search bar after making a search the application tray will open. Google has included for your convinience in this app "Gmail" Calendar" "Docs (now Drive)" "News" "Google+" "Reader" "Photos" "Translate" and "Finance".
Since you have logged into the app when you hit any of the applications that store personal data such as Gmail or Calendar they load your inbox or calendar. This is a very clever feature because it just makes everything so simple and wrapped up nicely in a pretty package.
Google has been working on their voice recognition for a while and while this feature does not work like Siri on the iPhone it is very helpful. You just have to make sure to speak very clearly and close to the iPad because it can mix up similar sounding words if it doesn't hear you properly. But it is a nice hands free option to run searches.
This has to be the most awesome feature of the whole app. Google has been talking for years about their Goggles project, what it is, is a photo search engine. You take a photo with the iPad's built in camera and then Google scans the picture looking for similar images on the web and will retreive these results in the same manner that it uses for text searches. This method take a few seconds longer to run, but if you don't know how to describe what it is you are looking for taking a picture is the easiest thing to do.
If you haven't already I think you should check this app out, makes me think of one stop shopping all you could ever need in a single app. The only thing they didn't include was maps, oh well. The app is available free in the Apple App Store
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