announced a new search offering for mobile devices. The redesigned search experience will free handset users from having to type by including browseable categories. Local mobile search will also integrate with saved Google Maps information on a user's computer.Today, Google
At first glance, this seems to be a great new tool to streamline the flow of information between our online and offline worlds. But how well does Google's new local mobile search work in reality?
On the Google Mobile blog, project manager Joshua Siegel writes about using the search functions on a recent trip to Hawaii. "The new category browse feature made it easy to find a place to rent bicycles for a quick tour of the coastline. I just tapped on 'Entertainment & Recreation' and then 'Bicycles' to execute a search - no typing necessary. When it was time for scuba diving, I didn't see an appropriate category, so I started typing 'SCUBA' in the search box and clicked on a suggestion for 'Scuba Tour Agency.' A few hours later, I was petting a white-tipped reef shark!"
This video from the Google team shows more about how to star certain locations in Google Maps while at a computer and use the different features of local search for mobile:
Sounds great, right?
But when we tried to use Google's local search tab on a mobile device, some of the results we got were strange and disappointing. We were searching for "coffee" and "WiFi" in southeastern Virginia, and the top result was for the Hotel Taj Bengal Kolkat in West Bengal. And although we do enjoy the Cafe de Paris in Monte Carlo, we do not think this was an appropriate second result for local search in Virginia.
When we narrowed our search to just "coffee", we got better results, but who wants just coffee with no WiFi?
Next, we tried browsing the categories, again with mixed results. The ability to access saved and recent searches, however, was stellar and is probably users' best bet for getting around to local businesses while on-the-go.