Thursday, July 30, 2015

Apple’s Plan for More Connected Apps

Federico Viticci:

At WWDC 2015, Apple announced app search, a new feature of iOS 9 that will help users find content inside apps. Beyond the user-facing aspects of a new search page on iOS and proactive suggestions from Siri, however, lies a commitment to fundamentally rethink iOS’ relationship with apps and the web, with deep implications for the future.


With local app search, iOS 9 can build an index of content, app features, and activities that users may want to get back to with a search query. Built like a database and already in use by Apple apps such as Mail and Reminders, CoreSpotlight will provide low level access to the index of an iOS device, making it easy to organize and retrieve content users have previously seen, created, or curated.


The way Apple has designed local app search is reminiscent of viewing history in web browsers: users want to be able to find things they’ve seen in the past; from this standpoint, local app search will be more akin to a local app history, enabling users to find apps, but also files, pages, profiles, likes, comments, and other types of previously seen content.


Apple is building a cloud index of user activities and web content. As the company describes it, the cloud index will “inform any searches by any user of your app on any device”, and it’s broadly aimed at creating a public and anonymous index of what users look for and engage with. Part web crawling and part a crowdsourced search database, Apple’s cloud index will be closely tied to apps and results from it will be displayed in the search page of iOS 9.


Developers have choice when it comes to the cloud index. In an iOS app, they can tag user activities as public, and public activities get sent to Apple's cloud index as anonymous hashes.

It’s interesting that CoreSpotlight does not seem to require creating lots of stub files like Spotlight on the Mac.

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Can't help but think this is the precursor to cross-app media searches being viable, which in turn would enable a future ATV to catalog content of multiple providers video/audio catalogs.

Given that each provider/app seems to be keen to silo its content, it would enable Apple to get the best user experience possible, especially if they can the it to the latest Siri/spotlight smarts for English language searches. It would certainly negate some of the advantages that competitors have gained in cataloging their content ...

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