Google is today launching an update for iOS users that will make it easier to find media content – like TV shows, movies and songs – on various streaming services and content marketplaces, including iTunes, Hulu, Amazon Video, Google Play, YouTube, Spotify and others.
The feature, which is still rolling out, will be showing you the icons for the services where the content is available when you perform a Google search. You’ll also be able to click those icons to be taken to that service and immediately start watching or listening.
For example, if you search for a movie title on iOS, the Knowledge Panel box at the top of the search results will offer details about the film, like its description, its cast, plus photos and reviews. Beneath this, it will now show where you can view the movie right now, by listing the services that have it available for streaming or for sale.
In addition to marketplaces like iTunes and Google Play, these links will include streaming services like ABC, Amazon, Hulu and others, which will bring you directly to the piece of content when clicked. Google also will display pricing information for the content on these services, when applicable.
For music searches, Google will now offer links to streaming services like Apple Music, Spotify and Pandora, also right from the Knowledge Panel that appears in search results for artists. These links will take you to the service in question, too, but will either play the content or the artist radio depending on whether or not you pay for the premium, on-demand version of the music service.
Google has experimented with better surfacing media content in its search results for a long time. Even back in 2009, the company was tinkering with making music more accessible in search. At that time, its “Music Onebox” was then delivering a new kind of search result that would instantly stream songs from services like Myspace and Lala. (Remember them?)
These days, Google is being more helpful by pointing you to a broader range of services and media types, as well as directly connecting you to the service you prefer to use with a click. Arguably, the feature is even more important today because there are far more places where media content is available online, and because Google is losing its footing on mobile as more people spend time in apps, not the web.
Google needs to offer features that will make its search engine more useful than doing a search in Apple’s on-device Spotlight Search service. And offering pricing information is a good step in that direction, as is the fact that Google can show a wider array of choices as to where a given piece of content can be found and for how much. This same search feature was previously live on Android, as well as the Google app for Android and desktop, the company says, but is hitting iOS today on both the mobile web and Google app.