Google adds app launcher with introduction of ‘tappable shortcuts’
Google has long been more than just a search engine, and now its mobile app reflects that. Along with the traditional search box and automated information cards, users will now see tappable shortcuts on the search app’s home screen, according to a recent blog post from the search giant.
The tappable shortcuts feature — which Google launched yesterday for both Android and iOS users in the US — essentially turns the mobile search app into an app launcher, where Google’s other web tools become mini apps.
How it works
Shortcuts appear right below the search box and are organized into categories, including Sports, Eat & Drink, Entertainment and Weather. So, rather than typing “today’s weather forecast” or “find nearby restaurants,” users can tap on the related shortcut and get real-time information in one tap.
Android users will have access to dozens of other shortcuts, including useful tools that allow them to translate foreign languages, find a nearby ATM or convert currency amounts. They will also be able to access fun features such as solitaire, tic-tac-toe and animal sounds.
These Android-only shortcuts don’t live on the home screen. According to TechCrunch, mobile users will see an arrow to the right of the main shortcuts. Tapping the arrow opens a new page with a list of tappable icons, organized into categories such as Nearby, Lifestyle, Tools, Fun, Travel and a personalized section called My Stuff.
How it changes the user experience
The tools that now have shortcuts aren’t new features. However, in the past, they weren’t front and center for mobile users. By turning its app into both a search tool and an app launcher, Google has organized its robust web toolkit into a simplified, tappable interface. This makes it easier for users to find information quickly and to discover new content, which could help to improve mobile engagement.
As the company explained on its blog, “The Google search box is great when you’re looking for a specific answer, but there are also moments when you just want to catch up on the latest for topics of interest.”
To get tappable shortcuts, mobile users must download the latest version of the Google app.