Google's reticence to pour any resources at all in the direction of Windows Phone, a competing platform, has been legendary. However, given Google's recent massive burst of activity in the iOS world, it's clear that getting its services onto other platforms is ultimately good for the company at the end of the day. And step one on Windows Phone seems to be a big revamp of the Google Search application, shown below, with changelog that includes full sign-in to a Google account...
Search faster and easier with the Google Search app for Windows Phone. With Google Search, you can talk to Google and understand the world’s people, places and things.
Voice Search: search by voice, skip the typing and get your results easier and faster.
Search Nearby: Find places near you without typing your location.
Autocomplete: get search predictions so you can get to where you want faster.
Sign in to your Google account within the app.
On Windows Phone 8, your voice commands are instantly displayed on the screen.
Improved Google Image viewing.
Several other bug fixes and resolution enhancements.
Here's Google Search in action:
Using location isn't new, but it's recommended to turn this on, so that local search results can be delivered; (right) (remembered) sign in is now supported - see below for the possible significance of this.
Both voice search and local results work perfectly now, even if it's still very apparent that you're essentially using a mobile web page.
The new version in place - it seems that the 'easter eggs' from the Google Search engine on Android are missing!
Having searched for a term, matches can be tabbed through, web to images to news to videos...
...here showing image matches and tapping through to a result.
Likewise searching Google News for matches for a search term - it seems that Rafe not only speaks Japanese, but he moonlights for Gigazine?!
Given that there's almost zero use for being 'signed in' in Google Search here, why did Google add this? Surely it's that the company is starting work on applications for Windows Phone and working authentication code was 'step one'? Is it possible that we might see official Google+, Gmail or YouTube clients for Windows Phone in due course? Last week I'd have been sceptical, but this Google Search update has got me hopeful again. What do you think?