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Android In-App Search Enhanced

Mobile developers can now apply for early access to new in-app search functionality for their Android apps.

Google last week announced a new search mode named In Apps, describing it as a new way to search for content within apps.

"Today, we're introducing a new way for you to search for information in your apps on your Android phone," the company said in an Inside Search post. "With this new search mode, called In Apps, you can quickly find content from installed apps. To access this feature, go to the Google app on your Android phone and find the In Apps tab."

Google said the feature provides one place from which users can find contacts and messages, listen to songs, watch videos, take notes, list tasks and more.

"Today this experience works with apps like Gmail, Spotify and YouTube," the company said. "In the coming months, we'll also be adding more apps, including Facebook Messenger, LinkedIn, Evernote, Glide, Todoist and Google Keep. Searching your personal results happens entirely on your phone, so you can search even when you're not connected to Wi-Fi or cellular data. Only you can see your personal results, and you can control what apps appear by going to Settings within the Google app."

Along with the In Apps announcement, the company offered developers early access to an API to use the new functionality, in a Google+ post published the same day.

"Does your app have personal content?" the post says. "Help your users find it directly from the Google app for Android, even when they're offline. We've opened up early access to our updated Android API for Firebase App Indexing, with new functionality to index personal content from your app. Content from your app can then appear for relevant queries in the Google app on Android in the new 'In Apps' tab, or as an autocomplete suggestion."

Because all the search action takes place locally on the device, the new capability is available even when no cellular or WiFi connections are available.

Google also said it plans to further enhance the new functionality and solicited suggestions along those lines.

"We're starting with an initial set of apps, and will continue expanding over the coming months. If you're interested in early access, let us know at http://g.co/appindexing/personal."

There, developers can fill out a form to learn more about making personal app content available in Google Search using the API.

"Firebase App Indexing now indexes personal content in apps, so that users can easily search across their Android apps for information like messages, photos, documents, or notes," the form page says. Once indexed, results appear in Google app autocomplete and bring users directly to your app."

The new functionality adds to current methods for enhancing in-app search, as explained in the previously published Making Your App Content Searchable by Google.

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for 1105 Media.

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