Android 12 adds a new device search API for third-party launchers
Google released the second Android 12 Developer Preview last month, and it gave us a glimpse of several upcoming features. Among these was a new Search widget for the Pixel Launcher that would let users search for apps, contacts, settings, and more on their device. It now seems like this functionality won’t be limited to the Pixel Launcher on Android 12.
The developers behind Niagara Launcher, a popular third-party home screen replacement app, have found new evidence in the Android 12 preview documentation, which suggests that Google is adding a new device search API in Android 12 that will let third-party launchers offer a similar universal search feature. As you can see in the attached tweet, the feature will give third-party launchers “access to the centralized AppSearch index maintained by the system.”
I stumbled upon this in Android 12’s preview documentation. Android 12 might allow all launchers to integrate a universal search like spotlight🔍 pic.twitter.com/gkucmPZtNb
— Niagara Launcher – Now out of Beta (@NiagaraLauncher) April 3, 2021
It further highlights that the AppSearch index is a search library for managing structured data featuring:
- A fully offline on-device solution
- A set of APIs for applications to index documents and retrieve them via full-text search
- APIs for applications to allow the System to display their content on the system UI surfaces
- Similarly, APIs for applications to allow the System to share their content with other specified applications.
This feature will essentially provide a native alternative to universal search apps like Sesame, giving users the option to search for almost anything on their device in an instant. While we have no further information about this integration at the moment, we expect to learn more in the upcoming Android 12 Developer Previews. We’ll update this post as soon as we have more information about the integration.
It’s worth mentioning that OnePlus already offers a similar universal search feature on its native launcher app. However, it’s restricted to a specific region. With the new Android 12 device search API, it may make its way to other regions as well.
Featured image: New Search widget for the Pixel Launcher