Search has always been a core component of Android – after all, the OS is made by Google. But one of the coolest tricks in the system has been reserved for Google’s own launcher and widget: the ability to search both your own apps and search results at once. This capability could come to all launch vehicles and apps in the near future, according to developer documentation for Android 1

2.

To be specific, we’re talking about the behavior you see when searching from the Google widget, either in the Pixel Launcher or using any other launcher with the widget placed on the screen. This search accesses both Google’s web search data and the list of apps installed on your phone. Third-party starters cannot do this in their own list of apps. For example, Nova Launcher’s drawer search has links to search for a question on Google or the Play Store, but can not fill the list with anything other than entries from your own installed apps. It is possible to extend this with third-party tools like Sesame Search, but at the moment it is far from a smooth experience.

Nova Launcher’s current search in apps, limited to a list of apps installed on the device, without web integration.

The update was discovered by the developers of the Niagara Launcher, and posted on Twitter. “AppSearchManager” API entry, according to the documentation, allows any app to activate the centralized AppSearch index, possibly even include actions in the app. Such as searching a Google Doc or finding a specific local image indexed in a gallery app. There is functionality that mirrors more powerful local search tools, seen on Windows and MacOS, and even the standard search function built into the home screen of iOS.

Scout the search tool on OnePlus OxygenOS

OnePlus has already built a custom search implementation similar to this, and it’s one of the features we’ve hoped would make its way to vanilla Android. We have not yet seen this more comprehensive AppSearchManager tool implemented on Android 12 Developer Preview.