Rethinking Universal Search

Current Universal Search


Universal search has been around since iPhone OS 3.0. Over the time not much has been done to it. I'm not sure how many of you actually use it anymore. It's great for finding an app or a contact but not much time is spent there. The current version allows you to find apps, music, emails, contacts, and a few other things. I'd like to show off a few ideas I've had for a while to make this page a bit more useful and maybe turn it into a hub for finding and consuming content.

Making it Universal

To make this page more useful we need to take the name universal to another level. Many of us have heard of Alfred and I think if apple acquired or maybe took some of their ideas it could make searching a bit more useful. Instead of having to find the app and then search within that, you could go to universal search type the name of a movie and the relevant results from within the app would show up, as the screenshot shows.



If you think about it, this idea has numerous ways on how this could be useful and save time. Say you want to find a product to buy and you the amazon app downloaded. Instead of trying to find that app, waiting for it to load, then search. You can just swipe left type in the product and find the price and how to buy right away.



Also say you want to tweet somebody quickly but you can't exactly remember there handle, type it in, type the message symbol and send your tweet right in universal search. The possibilities are really endless here.


The final idea that came to mind is making the universal search better for consuming quick information. Some other mockups have had these "cards" in other places like notification center or on the lock screen. But I think the universal search page would be the best place for these.



As you can see you can swipe between cards and swiping down on the keyboard will show more of them. These cards will allow the users to consume quick information and tie into the must wanted siri api that we all think is coming. The next section will talk about how these could be more robust.

Making them Smart

The final thing about these cards is that they should be content-aware so you don't have a million cards to flip through. This would be much like how google now cards show up.

So lets say you're listening to a song then that card would show up on your universal page, allowing you to pause or change the song.



Or let's say you just uploaded a new picture to instagram. For a specified period that card would show on the universal page so you quickly see who has commented or liked your picture.



Or if you are currently getting driving directions the nearby places card would then show up so you can quickly find places of interest for you



Now where this gets really interesting is how this could help apple in the search business. If apple adds more robust searching capabilities they can have their users bypass google and stay within apple's own ecosystem. Users wouldn't have to go to safari and search for what they want, all the information from their apps would combine into one central location where they can consume and find the content they want.

Thanks for reading.