Google Search is now available within iMessage. In an effort to more deeply integrate Google’s search engine on iOS devices, the company announced today that its Search app for iOS has added an iMessage extension, allowing iPhone and iPad users to search the web, then quickly add those search results to their iMessage conversations.
The extension itself is clearly inspired by Google’s experiments with Gboard, Google’s own third-party keyboard app for iOS devices, and comes at a time when the popularity of alternative iOS keyboards seems to be declining. Nuance, for example,just shut down its Swype keyboard app; and Swiftkey had exited to Microsoft a couple of years ago.
With Google’s iMessage extension, users can type a query in the search box, or tap a button below for a specific type of search – like Weather, Food, Nearby (venues/businesses), Trending (news), or Videos – all very similar to Gboard.
Google highlights restaurant search in particular in its announcement, as deciding where to eat is a common theme in iMessage chats. Tapping “Nearby” can help quickly pull up business listings or points of interest near your current location, which is also useful when communicating about a particular location.
Each search result includes a “Share” button that, when tapped, adds the item directly into an iMessage conversation as card. When the recipient taps on the card, they’ll go to the Google search result.
In addition, Google’s iMessage app offers a GIF search engine. This is available by tapping on the “GIF” button to the right of the search box, which will immediately load a selection of GIFs from sites like Giphy and Tenor, which you can then filter further by performing a search.
GIF search is a popular feature in Gboard, following that app’s update last year.
Making Gboard’s features available via an iMessage extension makes sense because not everyone wants to swap out their default keyboard on their iOS device.