With the upcoming release of iOS 15 for Apple mobile devices, Apple’s built-in search function known as Spotlight will become much more functional. In what could be one of its most significant updates since the introduction of Siri Suggestions, the new version of Spotlight becomes an alternative to Google for several key queries, including web images and actor information, musicians, TV shows and movies. It will also now be able to search your photo library, provide richer results for contacts, and connect you more directly to apps and the information they contain. It even lets you install apps from the App Store without leaving Spotlight itself.
Spotlight is also more accessible than ever.
Years ago, Spotlight went from its location on the left of the Home screen to becoming available with a swipe down in the middle of any screen in iOS 7, which has helped increase the user adoption. Now it is also available with the same swipe down gesture on the iPhone lock screen.
Apple showcased some of Spotlight’s enhancements during its keynote address at its Global Developer Conference, including the new search feature maps to find information on actors, movies, and shows, as well. than on musicians. This change alone could redirect a good deal of web searches away from Google or dedicated apps like IMDb.
For years, Google has offered quick access to common searches through its Knowledge Graph, a knowledge base that allows it to collect information from different sources and then use it to add information panels above and beside it. of its standard search results. Panels on actors, musicians, shows, and movies are available as part of this effort.
But now iPhone users can just view this information on their home screen.
The new maps include more than the typical biography and general Wikipedia information you would expect – they also feature links to where you can listen to or watch content from the artist or actor or movie or movie. program in question. They include news articles, social media links, official websites, and even direct you to where the person or topic you are looking for can be found in your own apps (for example, a search for “Billie Eilish Can direct you to her tour tickets in SeatGeek, or a podcast she’s invited to).
For image searches on the web, Spotlight now also lets you search the web for people, places, animals and more, giving you another search vertical that Google offers today. hui.
Your personal searches have also been improved with richer results in iOS 15.
When you search for a contact, you’re taken to a map that does more than show their name and how to reach them. You’ll also see their current status (thanks to another iOS 15 feature), as well as their location from FindMy, recent conversations on Messages, shared photos, calendar appointments, emails, notes, and files. . It’s almost like a personal CRM system.
Personal photo searches have also been improved. Spotlight now uses the intelligence of Siri to let you search your photos by people, scenes, and items in your photos, as well as by location. And it’s able to take advantage of iOS 15’s new Live Text feature to find text in your photos to return relevant results.
It could make it easier to extract photos where you’ve captured a recipe, store receipt, or even a handwritten note, Apple said.
Some features related to the integration of Spotlight with applications were not mentioned during the keynote.
Spotlight will now show action buttons on Maps results for businesses that will invite users to interact with that business’s app. In this case, the feature exploits app clips, which are small parts of a developer app that allow you to quickly perform a task even without downloading or installing the app in question. For example, from Spotlight, you may be prompted to view a restaurant menu, purchase tickets, make an appointment, order takeout, join a waitlist, view schedules, pay for parking , check prices and more.
The feature will require the company to support app clips to work.
Another change under the radar – but important – is the new ability to install apps from the App Store directly from Spotlight.
This could lead to more app installs, as it reduces the steps from a search to a download and makes the App Store query more widely available across the operating system.
Developers can additionally choose to insert a few lines of code into their app to make app data discoverable in Spotlight and customize how it is presented to users. This means that Spotlight can function as an app-based content search tool – another way for Apple to redirect users away from traditional web searches in favor of apps.
However, unlike Google’s search engine, which relies on crawlers that crawl the web to index the data it contains, search in Spotlight’s app requires developer adoption.
Still, it’s clear that Apple sees Spotlight as a potential rival to web search engines, including Google’s.
“Spotlight is the universal starting point all your research, ”said Craig Federighi, senior vice president of software engineering at Apple, at the main event.
Spotlight, of course, can’t handle “all” of your searches just yet, but it appears to be working towards this goal on a regular basis.