iOS users with the Google app installed will now see Google Search display as an information provider inside iMessage. The app is visible inside the iMessage app drawer, which appears at the bottom of chats. Tapping the Google icon opens a regular Google search box, where you can find information, GIFs and images.
The feature is intended to simplify the sharing of places, events and web content within iMessage chats. Using the extension, you can access Google’s knowledge base without leaving iMessage. Once you’ve found something to share, such as a restaurant card or product review, you can tap it to send it as a message. You don’t need to manually copy links or switch between apps.
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The integration is similar to the inclusion of Google Assistant in the company’s own Allo messaging service. On iOS, Google has less flexibility in integrating Assistant. Adding Search as an iMessage app allows Google to engage with users more effectively on Apple’s platform, making it more likely they’ll use its platform to find new content.
Previously, you may have left iMessage and used Apple’s Siri assistant to find information. Google said the feature will help you avoid “disrupting your flow” by making iMessage searching more streamlined. Currently, the extension is limited to iOS users in the U.S. but Google plans to broaden the rollout in the future.
“Whether you’re messaging a friend about dinner plans or reading an article on sloths, sometimes you want to search for more information without having to drop what you’re doing,” said Google. “Today, we’re introducing three new features to the Google app on iPhone and iPad to help you find what you need and get things done, without disrupting your flow.”
Google’s also adding two other capabilities to its iOS Search app. The company’s building upon its previously launched “related content” feature by adding support for more web browsers.
Previously, this only worked within the Google app. You’ll now able to share links browsers like Safari to get more information on web content. If you’re reading an article about grilling fish, the Google app might provide recipe suggestions or ideas on the best fish to use.
The final addition is drag-and-drop compatibility for iPad users. When using the Google app in split-screen mode, you can now drag-and-drop text, images and links in and out of the app to simplify sharing. If you want to send an article to a friend, you can drag its title out of the Google app and into a messaging service to immediately share the link. The feature works anywhere drag-and-drop is supported in iOS.