Google has been busy beefing up its mobile offerings lately. In the last several weeks, it's announced a mobile payment system, Google Wallet; a new bus-tracking system that uses Google Maps; as well as a revamped Google Docs app for Android devices.
It's two newest updates to mobile, announced today, focus on search -- and with good reason. According to Google, mobile search traffic has grown five-fold in the last two years, and is growing at a rate comparable to Google in the early years.
Here's a look at the two new features you'll find on Google's mobile version, and how to get the most out of them.
1. Search Locally With Google
Scott Huffman, director of engineering at Google, says that as mobile search increased, so did the number of searches for nearby places. To make it easier for people to search for what's around them, Google added shortcuts to search local categories such as restaurants, coffee shops and bars, right on the Google.com homepage. Other shortcuts include fast food, what's nearby, shops, ATMs, gas stations and attractions.
When you click a shortcut -- Restaurants, for example -- Google will recognize your current location and load a list of restaurants near where you currently are, without having to type anything into the search bar.
Once the results page loads, you'll see a map with a blue marker -- which indicates where you are on the map -- and surrounding markers pinpointing nearby restaurants. You can browse through these listings and click on a restaurant's listing for more information, such as customer reviews, address and phone number.
Another cool feature: As you browse through the results, the map stays at the top of the screen and updates with the listings as you scroll through them.
Search More Thoroughly With Google
Another enhancement to the Google.com mobile site is an easier way to build longer, more complicated searches. Rather than typing a longer search query letter by letter, Google now suggests phrases as you type, and lets you "build" your search piece by piece.
Here's how it works: Begin your search by typing. Suggestions will automatically appear, and when you see one that fits, tap the (+) button to add it to your query. When one matches exactly, select it to see the search results.
This feature is already available on the Google Search app for Android and iOS devices.
Kristin Burnham covers consumer technology, social networking and Web 2.0 for CIO.com. Follow Kristin on Twitter @kmburnham. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Kristin at firstname.lastname@example.org
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