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Google could be looking to reimagine Android's home screen Search widget

Amongst other options, we could soon get the ability to search with AI right from the home screen search widget.
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Published onFebruary 24, 2024

OneUI vs Pixel UI homescreen
TL;DR
  • A Google Opinion Rewards survey gives us a sneak peek at some possible reimaginations of the Google Search widget that is present across all GMS-equipped Android smartphones.
  • Google could add more buttons, surface on-device content through universal search, provide a news showcase, or even make it easier to search through AI.

If you use any popular Android smartphone, chances are you’ve unboxed it and set it up to find a prominent Google Search widget in the center of the home screen. This Search widget is included as part of the “Mobile Application Distribution Agreement” (aka MADA), and its positioning and appearance are uniform across all devices that ship with the Google Play Store. But Google could be in the mood to switch things up if a recent Google Opinion Rewards is any clue.

While setting up a new phone, I removed the Google Search widget from my home screen. Shortly after, Google Opinion Rewards presented me with a survey, inquiring whether I removed the Search widget from the home screen and my reasons for doing so. Towards the end of the survey, Google asked for my opinion on these possible Search widget reimaginations:

As the previews show, the Search bar could be up for an upgrade. Amongst the options presented in the survey, Google appears to be experimenting with a Search bar widget with these possible functionalities:

  • More buttons to make it easier to search in different ways.
  • The ability to search for on-device content from within the Google Search bar is akin to universal search functionality.
  • A news showcase above the search widget bar.
  • Ability to use AI search through the search widget bar.

The ability to use AI with the search widget bar is the most interesting of these options, as it closely aligns with Google’s recent ambitions with AI through Google Gemini. Adding the ability to search with AI through the Search widget and, by extension, possibly making it part of the MADA obligations would be a sure-shot way of getting AI into the hands of many millions of Android users worldwide.

Note that Google has not officially confirmed any of these reimagined Search widgets. But the survey does give us a peek at some of the possibilities of what Google could be thinking for the future. In some regions, the Search widget allows using different search engines beyond Google Search, so how that would play out is also unknown. We hope to find out soon if Google changes the Search widget in any way.

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