10/13/14
5:00 am

Using Spotlight Search in iOS 8

The basic search function in iOS has been expanded in iOS 8 to include useful suggestions. You'll see Wikipedia entries, movie times, map locations and items in the App and iTunes Stores. You can also adjust what you see in a Spotlight Search in the Settings app, removing items and setting their order.

Video Transcript
Hi this is Gary with MacMost.com. On today's episode let's take a look at the new Spotlight Search in iOS 8.

To activate Spotlight Search what you need to do is put your finger just above in the middle of the screen and drag down slightly. Be careful not to go too high. If you go too high up here you are going to bring down the Notification Center. It is just a short drag in the middle of the screen and it brings it up.

One of the most useful things that you can do with Spotlight Search is to search for an app. Say you have tons of apps. You have several screens of them and you have app folders. You are going to use one that you don't use everyday and you can't remember where you put it. Well, you don't need to remember. Just do that drag down to start Spotlight Search and start typing the name of the app.

You can see it appears right there under Applications. It is usually the very first thing that appears there. You can do that with any app name and it will get it as soon as it gets enough characters. You can just tap on it right there to launch that app.

Now Spotlight will search a lot more than just your apps. For instance, if I type this in here I am going to get some map locations nearby. So I instantly get the closest pizza places to me. I also get Contacts so I've got one pizza place in my Contacts. Any Music I've got that has that word in it. Any Notes that I've got. Even any emails that have that word in it. It is going to do a search through all that. So there is a lot of different pieces of content that Spotlight searches through.

To see exactly what Spotlight will show you go into Settings and then under General look for Spotlight Search. There you will see a complete list of all the different things. So, for instance, there is Contacts, Music, Podcasts, all that stuff.

Now if there is something you don't want to ever see, say for instance you have a huge music collection and you are always getting the names of songs showing up in the Spotlight Search and you prefer to search for music in the Music app, you can tap on that and turn it off and you will no longer see results from Music in there. Likewise with any of these other things here.

You can also reorder things. For instance, say if you are always using Spotlight to search for Contacts, then you can tap and drag on the three little bars on the right side, right here, you tap and drag those up or down and you can change the order. So there is a lot you can do there to reorder things and remove things that you don't want.

The really big category is Spotlight Suggestions. This is whole set of things that Spotlight Search will do for you. Let's take a look.

So let's start typing a movie name and I don't even have to complete typing. It is going to find it and it will show me lots of information about the movie including show times at the theater closest to me. You can also just type of word movies and you will get this entry at the top of what is playing at theaters now and you can tap that and it will bring up a screen where you can jump into individual movies. You can select one and continue to get more information or you can use the back button at the upper left, go back and do more searches.

Now let's say you enter the name of a movie that is available on iTunes. You can see that it comes up with a link right there to either buy or rent it at iTunes.

You can also start typing the name of an artist or group and it is going to bring up the artist on iTunes and link directly there. Also then it will bring up, from my music collection, music that I've got there.

We have also seen Wikipedia show up a few times. If you type in a subject you will see a Wikipedia summary, just a few lines, and you can jump right to that Wikipedia entry. Then, of course, there is also Bing search results for things like this as well.

Another type of suggestion it will show you is for an app in the store. So you can see it gives me a direct link to the App Store there. In this case I've typed in the exact name of the app. You can also sometimes see results for topics that you've typed in for App Store suggestions there.

You also get suggestions for locations. So start typing in a name and you will see you get a Maps entry at the top. You tap that and it takes you right to the Maps app for that location.

Now some of this functionality is merged into Safari, the suggestions part. So if you start typing say the name of a movie you will get that suggestion there at the top of Safari. If you start typing a topic you will get Wikipedia at the top. So you don't get all the other stuff like your Apps, your Music, your Contacts but you do get the Spotlight Suggestions in Safari as well as in Spotlight Search.

Comments: 159 Responses to “Using Spotlight Search in iOS 8”

    Richard Fuhr
    10/13/14 @ 9:11 am

    Another useful category for Spotlight Search in iOS 8 would be folder names. If users have a lot of apps in a certain category, they often group them into a folder (e.g., Weather or News). In the Mac OS X implementation of Spotlight Search, we already do get folders as one of the return types, so it would be great to have a similar capability on iOS.

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