I’ve noticed recently when searching Google on an ipad that I’m seeing a different results display to the standard desktop display.  Screenshot of Google search interface on ipad portrait orientationScreenshot of Google search interface on ipad - landscape orientation I’m now seeing the results split up into a set of boxes.  So there’s a box at the top containing paid advertising, followed by a box with three results from the web, followed by a box with a single result from news and so on.

In landscape orientation you also get a related searches box on the right of the screen.  When you turn to a portrait view the related searches drop to the bottom.  At the foot of the page is a next button that takes you to more results including images.  On this second screen the related searches have dropped to the bottom and have been replaced by more advertising.

Some of the boxes have a ‘More’ link, for news and images for example.  When you go on to pages three and four you are into a fairly standard google web list but still placed in a box.  I’m not sure when Google started doing this or if this is a feature that is just being tested for mobile devices.   Not everyone seems to see it on ipads so I’d be interested to know under what circumstances you get to see this approach.

It is very reminiscent of the ‘bento box’ type approach, pulling results from different places and that’s something that we’ve been trying.  It’s not dissimilar to NCSU’s approach in terms of showing results from different types of content. e.g.  Screenshot of NCSU library search resultshttp://www.lib.ncsu.edu/search/?q=psychology

I think I’m quite surprised to find Google looking at this route.  For libraries we are looking at this route because it is a way to bring results together from several different systems.  Those systems are often the front-end of the systems that are used to manage different types of content and we often seem to struggle to join up all the different types of content into one integrated search solution.  Google have come to this from a very different place in that they have their content organised by themselves in what you would presume is a consistent way.  But still feel the need to be able to highlight content of different types (news, videos, images) to people.

But I think the difference is in the types of things that are being pulled out here.  You can see from NCSU that a typical list of different ‘stuff’ for libraries is Articles, Databases, Books & Media, Journals, Library website.  Yet for Google it is news, videos, images, maps, essentially quite high-level format concepts.  And I’m starting to think that it is one of the real problems for libraries that we have put ourselves in a position where articles and journals are somehow seen to be two different and separate things, when in reality one is just the packaging of several of the others together.