Google
By Lisa Eadicicco
March 21, 2017

Since its inception, Google’s search engine has evolved from simply displaying blue links to pulling up full answers to questions and showing relevant data before you even ask for it. Now, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company is building shortcuts into the mobile version of Google Search that make it possible to find answers to popular queries by tapping rather than typing.

Both the Google Search app and the Search homepage on the mobile web will now include shortcuts for areas of interest such as the weather, sports, food and drinks, and entertainment. The Google app currently shows news headlines relevant to your interests, the weather, and sports scores in one feed. But with the update, users will be able to tap individual topics to browse an entire feed of information related specifically to that subject.

Choosing entertainment, for example, will show showtimes, trailers, and news related to movies and TV, while the sports category would pull up scores and news related to your favorite teams. Google is positioning this as a way to dive into specific topics more deeply rather than just touching on these subjects in the Google app’s main feed. These results will also vary depending on what your search history and preferences.

Both Android and iOS will be getting new buttons, but Android users will have many more options to choose from. In addition to the aforementioned categories, Android device owners will see shortcuts for animal sounds, a tip calculator, booking a flight, a unit converter, and nearby ATMs and grocery stores among other pieces of information. The Google app for Android will offer more than 40 shortcuts, while the iOS app and the mobile web will only get buttons for exploring the weather, entertainment, eat and drink, and sports.

Google will position the shortcuts you use most frequently on the homepage, while Android app users can tap an arrow to access the dozens of other choices. “We looked at, what are people doing the most in your locale,”said Tamar Yehoshua, Google’s vice president of product management. “[And then] we prioritized those as options.” Google will eventually tweak these shortcuts to reflect current events as well, such as the NBA Finals.

While the update may change little about what people actually use Google for, it reveals much about how the company envisions its core product. It’s another sign that Google is aiming to be a hub for all of your interests rather than just a means of finding answers to questions.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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