Google Search comes preinstalled on every Android device, so whether you want it or not, you have it. The good news is, the app is powerful, fast, and makes all the smarts of Google’s incredible search engine easily accessible from your mobile device.
For those with devices running Android version Jelly Bean, the app is a lot more robust and comes loaded with the popular Google Now set of features. For this reason, I’ll be focusing on this latest version of Google Search for Android.
Meanwhile, for the unfortunate majority whose devices run Android version Ice Cream Sandwich or lower, the Search app is straightforward and relatively one-dimensional. Essentially, it is the Google Search bar packed into its own standalone app. You can use it to search with text or voice, and it does its best to autocomplete your searches based on your search history and other factors. It offers the same smart results that we are all used to from Google, and that’s about it.
The easiest way to access Google Search is through a search bar widget on your Home screen. From here, you can tap the bar to open up the full Google Search interface, or you can tap the microphone icon and start speaking your search query out loud. Either way, the app does a great job of getting to the bottom of your search query and returning relevant results.
When you’re conducting a search using text, Google Search returns search results just like you’re used to, with links to relevant sources of information on the Web. And if you’re searching for a notable place or person, like Michael Jordan, for example, the Knowledge Graph feature conveniently kicks in and displays all of his vitals and related information up top, before the Web links.
Along the bottom of the Google Search interface is a toolbar that lets you quickly switch among images, places, news, videos, and other types of search results. With these options, the search experience is very much like it is in a full Web browser.
One of the best things about Google Search is Google Now. Often misunderstood as a standalone Siri-style app, Google Now is actually a set of intelligent personal assistant features that are built right into the Google Search app. As I mentioned, these features are only available to users with Android Jelly Bean and higher. Meanwhile, on iOS, Google Now is available to essentially all users (iOS 5 and higher).