Coming soon: Siri and Spotlight search for iOS Apps

(Side-note: I’ve been interested in writing this post for about two years now. Every few months I feel I should write it before Apple actually ships such a feature. Finally the post’s done!)

How does iOS reduce its dependence on web search from Google or Bing? Simple, syndicate Spotlight searches to installed apps.

Introducing Spotlight for Apps

Imagine if every iOS app could implement a ‘search’ capability, that would be exposed to the iOS search subsystem. This search could be over local data, e.g. Address Book-like applications; over remote data, e.g. Wikipedia; or over either, e.g. Mail.

Your favorite content sources (like Yelp), content aggregators (like Flipboard or New York Times) and even crowdsourced information aggregators (like, hey, Twitter and Facebook) already reside as apps on your iOS device. Any search you’re interested in doing would hit these apps first – and would probably show the information you care for right at the top.

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Amazon’s sneaky trick for instantaneous search results

Ever wonder why Amazon search results seem to load so fast? Turns out they are employing a cute trick when loading paginated results. Now, this technique is probably patented up the wazoo… so, use at your own risk!

Simply put, each results page contains data for more results than are displayed; so when the user presses next, the ‘extra’ results get shown immediately, and an AJAX call is then dispatched to load the rest. As a result, the user feels as if the search results appeared instantaneously.

Note how the first image requested for the second page of search results is for result #16, not for result #13.

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