Google widget for iOS 14 makes for swifter searches

Google has added a new iOS 14 widget for iPhone users, and it could be enough to make Android fans glance over at their Apple brethren jealously. Taking advantage of iOS 14's new home screen widget support – that has, it's fair to say, been a long time coming – the Google widget promises swifter access to the search giant's services than has been possible on iPhone before.

Initially, there's two sizes of Google widget for iOS. The smaller version simply has a search bar, and tapping it pulls up a quick way to run a Google search. Previously, if you wanted that, the quickest way was probably to pull down to get the iOS search bar, start typing "Google" until the Google app was auto-suggested, and then open that to get to the same search functionality.

However there's also a larger, more functional widget, if you don't mind handing over more home screen space. That includes shortcuts to three other types of search: Google Lens, using the camera to do a visual search; Voice Search, for dictating queries rather than typing; and Incognito mode, for a search made with Google's privacy settings enabled.

You'll need the Google app installed – of course – and iOS 14 or iPadOS 14 loaded on your iPhone or iPad to actually access the widget. After that, it's a matter of pressing and holding on the iOS or iPadOS home screen, then pressing the plus icon that appears in the upper left corner. That opens up the widget gallery.

The Google app should be in that catalog, along with the widgets available for any other apps that you might have installed. You can swipe across to change between the small and large Google widgets, and then tap "Add Widget" to position it on the home screen. Finally, hit "Done" to finish.

This search widget is only the first that Google has in mind, according to Luke Wroblewski, director of iOS at Google. There'll be more arriving "in the coming weeks" he says, though doesn't drop any hints as to what apps might be next. Still, with support in iOS 14 for setting Chrome as your default browser – albeit with a glitch that resets that on a reboot – and, soon, setting Gmail as your default email app, it's not hard to imagine those being areas of focus for the Google widgets team.