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Google Pixel device search might be about to get a lot more powerful

Google Pixel 6 Pro
(Image credit: Future)

If you're rocking the Pixel Launcher, then you might be in for an upgrade to the search function. While you can search for files on your Pixel or run Google queries right now, a new teardown has shown that Google could be working on expanding its functionality.

According to findings that 9to5Google dug up, the Pixel Launcher is preparing to add the ability to search across YouTube, Maps, Settings, and the Play Store in addition to Google and device files. 9to5Google provided four new strings that it found in the S.17 version of the Android System Intelligence software: 

  • <string name=”search_on_maps_title”>Search on Maps</string>
  • <string name=”search_on_play_title”>Search on Play Store</string>
  • <string name=”search_on_settings_title”>Search on Settings</string>
  • <string name=”search_on_youtube_title”>Search on Youtube</string>

Tapping the title will theoretically open the query in the corresponding app, just like the Search on Google title does right now. This would massively expand Pixels' utility, coming up in line with Spotlight on iOS. Imagine searching on your phone for an app in the Play Store, a video on YouTube, or a location on Maps. This is what I've been asking for for years, and it could save a lot of time.

As for when we'll see this roll out, I can think of two options. The first being that it might launch alongside Android 13 later this year (or perhaps in a beta). The other is that Google might push this out in a quarterly Pixel Feature Drop — the next one would be in the middle of the summer.

Remember that interpreting code like this can be an iffy science. And just because the strings exist in the codebase, it doesn't mean that they'll see the light of day any time soon. There's also the caveat that this potential device search expansion will likely be limited to the Pixel Launcher, which you can only install on a Pixel. If you use a different phone or a third-party launcher, you'll likely be left out in the rain.

So take all of this with a grain of salt, but it is definitely worth paying attention to. We might even hear about it at Google I/O next week.

Jordan Palmer
Jordan Palmer

Jordan is the Phones Editor for Tom's Guide, covering all things phone-related. He's written about phones for over five years and plans to continue for a long while to come. He loves nothing more than relaxing in his home with a book, game, or his latest personal writing project. Jordan likes finding new things to dive into, from books and games to new mechanical keyboard switches and fun keycap sets. Outside of work, you can find him poring over open-source software and his studies.