Searchin’ Safari

Everyone has there own personal list of feature requests for new iOS versions. My request is relatively simple. Heck, it could be included in an incremental upgrade. I would like searching in Mobile Safari to be more like searching with m.bing.com. Specifically, the ability to string together search suggestions before submitting the search.

What am I talking about? Here’s an example from the other week. I wanted to search for Radiohead’s King of Limbs album on vinyl. I open Mobile Safari, tap in the search box, and proceed to type ‘radiohead king of limbs v’ before the correct phrase comes up on the list of search suggestions. Me wanting to be efficient and also being lazy, I would much prefer not to do all of that typing. Who would?

imageTap ‘+’ to add Radiohead

imageAdding ‘King of Limbs’

Here’s what the experience is like if, instead of using Mobile Safari’s built-in search, I use Bing’s mobile search site. In the search field I type ‘radioh’ and the top suggestion is Radiohead. Nothing new there. The difference is that next to the suggestions are ‘+’ symbols that enable you to add that suggestion to your search field.

Now that I've added Radiohead to the search field, all future suggestions will be relative to Radiohead. So I type ‘k’ and the top suggestion is King of Limbs. Perfect.

Repeat this with the letter ‘v’, vinyl is suggested, and my search phrase is complete. I can now search for ‘radiohead king of limbs vinyl’ but only having typed ‘radioh k v’. Much cleaner, must faster. This is how searching should be.

I include this in the category of missing features (as opposed to a competitors feature I wish I had) because the ability to string together search suggestions already exists in the desktop Safari application. It has for a while. In addition, I would argue that streamlining mobile search is still quite important. When I open Safari on the iPhone, 4/5 times it’s to search for something. I would think that, with the millions of iPhone and iPad users, a hefty percentage of Mobile Safari use is begun with a search. It only makes sense to me that Apple design the friendliest way possible to perform such searches.