Mobile search patterns are growing far closer to those on the PC as phones become more powerful and gain improved screens and user interfaces, says Google. The search giant's vision – in contrast to that of mobile specialists like Nokia – is that the PC and smartphone web experience should evolve to be identical and it has added features to its engine to speed that process.
One of the most important additions is being able to run searches across mobiles and the PC, as well as improved restriction of search results to specific months, years or timescales; more detailed page summaries; and the 'Wonder Wheel', which helps refine results by providing a chain of related queries.
But the ability to coordinate searching across multiple platforms is the most significant, fitting in with the broader trends for developer tools, user interfaces and app stores that span phones, notebooks and even set-top boxes – with Adobe and the Java community being key movers.
Google said this week that searches conducted on high end handsets were far closer to those done on PCs than to searches on conventional handsets. Its study, carried out with Stanford University researchers, shows that the average length of a smartphone query is nearly three words, compared to just 2.5 words on conventional handsets.
"These trends on the high end phones indicate to us that mobile search is starting to really 'work'. In other words, mobile search is a viable means for users to find information," said Google's Maryam Kamvar, who added that the findings will help the company better target its search ads. "This is because we find mobile users on the non-high end devices who query a topic seem to be 'loyalists' to a particular topic."
Google also concludes that different phones need different search interfaces, with the smartphone variant looking increasingly like the PC's. It said there is no universal search interface suitable for all phones, but that smartphones would increasingly take advantage of personalization features, and would help users who viewed these devices as extensions of their desktops.