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Circle to Search won't work if Google isn't your default assistant (Update)

Have another search engine set as your default app? Then Circle to Search won't work for you.

Published onFebruary 20, 2024

Samsung Galaxy S24 Circle to Search prompt
Robert Triggs / Android Authority
  • A teardown of the Google app suggests that Circle to Search won’t work if Google isn’t your default assistant app.
  • This is an obvious limitation but still disappointing if you’re using an alternative assistant.
  • Google’s string suggested that Circle to Search wouldn’t work if Google wasn’t your default search engine too.

Update: February 21, 2024 (1:30 AM ET): We originally reported that the Google app’s strings suggest Circle to Search won’t work without Google as your default search engine. Now, 9to5Google has verified that changing to a different search engine has no effect on the feature.

Circle to Search without Google assistant
Aamir Siddiqui / Android Authority

We were able to confirm this too, as Circle to Search worked fine after we changed to a different search engine in our default browser. We can also confirm that switching the default assist app does result in feature being disabled. Attempting the Circle to Search gesture with a different default assist app results in a pop-up telling you to set Google as your assistant (see the image above).

Original article: February 20, 2024 (7:35 AM ET): Google recently brought Circle To Search functionality to the Galaxy S24 series and Pixel 8 range. The feature allows you to quickly conduct a web search by drawing a circle on a desired area of your phone’s screen. Now, an Android Authority teardown has revealed a significant Circle to Search limitation if Google isn’t your default search engine.

An APK teardown helps predict features that may arrive on a service in the future based on work-in-progress code. However, it is possible that such predicted features may not make it to a public release.

A teardown of version 15.6.38 of the Google app has revealed that Circle to Search won’t work if Google isn’t your default search engine or assistant app.

<string name="omnient_error_description_ose_recovery">"Circle to Search unavailable due to your choice of default online search engine. To screen search, set Google as your online search engine."</string> 
<string name="omnient_error_description_vis_recovery">To search your screen, set Google as your default assistant app.</string>
<string name="omnient_error_title_ose_recovery">Circle to Search unavailable</string>

This seems like an obvious limitation as Circle to Search is a Google Search feature after all. But this is still disappointing if you prefer to use Bing, DuckDuckGo, or another search engine.

We’re guessing Google could theoretically support third-party search engines down the line, but we aren’t holding our breath for this. So fans of alternative search engines will need to stick with Google as their default app if they like the idea of Circle to Search.

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