Android users often get Google search integrated with the operating system. Windows Phone users find Bing built in at every turn. But iOS users need a little something extra to fully flex their search muscles: the official Google Search app.
The main reason it rules over Safari’s search bar? Voice search. If your last experience talking to a computer was some wonky dictation software, you’re in for a treat. Bark “Phone number for Motorino Pizza in New York” into your iPhone mic and the listing pops up in seconds. Ask your iPad for “Quentin Tarantino’s filmography” and it appears as the first result.
Voice search can’t be beat when you’re driving or hoofing it down a busy sidewalk, but it’s also a remarkably reliable and efficient alternative to your phone’s tiny keyboard in any situation. Google execs sometimes muse about a future in which search results are delivered as you think of queries; voice search is a step in that direction (without the brain implants). However you choose to search, the app’s handy swipe-over toolbar lets you target the type of results you’re looking for: images, places, news, products.
Visual search, called Google Goggles (available only on iPhone and iPad), offers a third, decidedly futuristic way to find answers. Snap a photo of a product’s UPC code with your device’s camera and the app pulls up the manufacturer’s site and the going price from a handful of online retailers. Capture a book cover and it’ll beam you the Amazon.com page as a top result. You can even take a picture of a painting to find out the artist and title.
Being a know-it-all has never been easier.