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Android 12 will eventually make search suck less on Pixel phones

Android 12 Beta 4 includes all the pieces to fix search, but you need root to enable them

It looks like Android 12 will fix the horribly slow (and frankly rather useless) search bar in the Pixel Launcher.

According to XDA Developers, the recently released Android 12 Beta 4 includes all the pieces required to activate the new Pixel Launcher search bar. However, at the moment, users need root access to turn it on. That will likely make the improved search function unreachable for most users until Google enables it.

XDA reports that the new search bar leverages a new Android 12 API called ‘AppSearch’ released as part of Beta 3. AppSearch works offline with an on-device search library that developers can integrate into their apps. Beta 4 brings a new service called ‘AiAiSearchUiService,’ which XDA says was required to get the new search working on Beta 4.

Once enabled, the new search lets quickly look up apps, shortcuts, widgets, settings, contacts, conversations, tips and more. Judging by the screenshots and video (see below) posted by XDA, the new search appears to work more like the excellent Spotlight search on iOS. Currently, the search bar on the Pixel Launcher plugs into the Google app and mimics a typical Google web search, although it does show on-device apps too.

Further, XDA notes the new search lets users jump into specific parts of an app. As an example, when users look up camera in the new app, they should also see shortcuts to ‘Take a video’ or ‘Take a selfie.’ Tapping those opens the camera app in video mode or in selfie mode.

Finally, it seems like users will be able to customize some aspects of the new search, including what kind of results show up, whether the keyboard opens automatically when you type search and more. Oddly, XDA notes that the new search only works in the app drawer, while the search bar on the home screen is still the old Google app widget. I hope that changes, or an option to change it arrives in the future, since the new search sounds much, much more useful.

I’m glad to see Google’s working to improve search in the Pixel Launcher. Spotlight on iOS completely changed how I used iPhones, and I was often disappointed that Google — you know, the company known for search — hadn’t included a similarly powerful search tool in Android. I’ve complained about it before, and I’m not the only one frustrated with the poor search experience.

Source: XDA Developers

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