Performing searches on mobile phones -- especially those without readily accessible QWERTY keyboards -- can be a pain in the, er, thumb. Google recently made some changes to how local search works on mobile phones, and it requires fewer keystrokes.There are two parts to the improvements that Google has brought to mobile search. First and foremost, it has added the ability to integrate with Google Maps.
Users can perform searches within Maps and place stars on places there are interested in visiting and/or learning more about. Users are then able to sign into their Google accounts from their phones and have access to those starred locations.
The starred locations will show up in the local search tool in a way that is optimized for mobile devices. Users will be able to see pertinent information such as when stores or shops open, what their addresses are, phone numbers, and, of course, links to obtain directions.
Perhaps the more interesting feature, however, is the new way that local search allows users to sort through results using categories rather than typing. For example, Joshua Siegel, Product Manager, Mobile Local Search Team, writes, "The new category browse feature made it easy to find a place to rent bicycles for a quick tour of the coastline. I just tapped on 'Entertainment & Recreation' and then 'Bicycles' to execute a search - no typing necessary."
Reducing typing on mobile phones to a bare minimum is a great way to speed things up. Personally, I use Google's Voice Search feature on the iPhone all the time to make things faster, especially when I know a lot of typing might be involved. This new capability is just another way to make things a wee bit faster, which appears to be a core goal of all things Google.
The new features are available in the U.S. and China to start, and Google says that more regions are on the way.
If you're still not sure if it's worth looking at, here's a video that Google made explaining how it all works: