Google's Quick Search Box in Android 1.6
Google is the master at getting its message out to its Internet audience, and while the company's Android developer team blog has been known to go quiet, the team has really kicked things into high gear of late.
Late yesterday, the Android team put the spotlight on a key new feature in the newly released Android 1.6 Donut build: the Quick Search Box, or QSB.
QSB aims to let Android smartphone users easily find what they're looking for online. Think of it as the Google Search Box you use from your desktop, only it opens windows to much more than just keyword-driven content.
Type in a query, and QSB suggests device-centric content such as applications, contacts, browser history and music, in addition to suggested results from the Web -- think local business listings, stock quotes, weather and flight status. QSB could be ground zero for Android smartphones running 1.6:
Yet Google's Android engineers aren't just excited about what QSB does for consumers, but also about what it does for developers. See, QSB is more than a feature; it's a framework Android application developers can use to provide quicker and easier access to the content inside their apps. Wrote Android's Mike LeBeau and Karl Rosaen:
Your apps can provide search suggestions that will surface to users in QSB alongside other search results and suggestions. This makes it possible for users to access your application's content from outside your application--for example, from the home screen.
If you're an Android developer, you'll want to read the rest of this post for a tutorial, code included, on how to do the coding to get such results into your Android apps.
This includes a demo app called Searchable Dictionary that provides access to a small dictionary of words in QSB.
This tutorial is part of Google's broader plan to improve the developer services for Android, the Android Market, and the applications programmers choose to sell in it.
Coddling developers is certainly one way Google can endear itself to hopeful application programmers, providing a cozier alternative to Apple's iPhone App Store, whose rules are often nebulous and Draconian.