The inward (mobile) search

I’ve had this on my mind for a few years now, and was reminded by this article about how Apple will reject Stadia and xCloud from the App Store. I’m a fan of both of those services so far, but my thoughts are tangential to Apple’s locked down platform. The nit I am picking is with search.

There is an almost throwaway line in Apple’s policy about how all the games would need to be reviewed and available in search. In direct relation to this issue, the policy is dumb and will likely fold, either to antitrust inquiries or backdoor handshake deals (or both). It creates a bad user experience (people who want to use the service on iOS cannot) for the sake of a good user interface.

I can’t fault them for it. In my 10 years using smartphones, I was able to switch to iOS for an entire 6 weeks, around the end of 2015. The only thing that still haunts me as an Android user is Spotlight Search.

It underscores the core design difference between the two systems. There is a single iOS which everyone experieces, but users bring along their individual stuff into the walled garden. On Android, you are generally encourged to create your own unique experience, which is rewarding in itself. However, trying to access personal items is a hassle, as search is almost always pointed outward toward the G-shaped hive mind.

I’ve spent several weeks organizing personal notes, experimenting with new tools. The interoperability and longevity of plaintext notes has proven particular alluring, and quite useful in practice. But if I want to perform a mobile search that includes my personal files as well as relevant emails/todos/etc., I am out of luck. The market leader to end all market leaders of internet search fails to accomplish this, and probably on purpose, because again, all search points outward by design.

Anyways, this has been bugging me for years, and won’t get any better because I just got my next Android phone. On a related note, I look forward to Obsidian coming to mobile.

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