Google started experimenting with thumbnails in its Search suggestions on mobile, with some users running the latest beta build of the Google app seeing the new interface. Not everyone with the Google app version 7.13 has access to the thumbnails but the change itself seems to be of the server-side variety seeing how even the third-party Pixel Pill Widget appears to be able to display the new feature, as seen in the screenshots below.
The change is immediately noticeable for anyone who’s relying on mobile Search a lot seeing how it makes Google’s predictive search suggestions significantly more colorful and eye-drawing, which was possibly what the developers intended in the first place. The thumbnails themselves appear next to suggestions for searches about (famous) people, fictional characters, some sports teams, select music albums, movies, and TV shows. At least one user later claimed they’ve had access to the functionality for a couple of months as of today, suggesting that Google is now expanding its availability after a more limited period of testing. However, even if the thumbnails are being introduced as a server-side switch, the fact that only people running the new beta build of the Android app are reporting seeing the change suggests that the Alphabet-owned company still isn’t conducting a global rollout. Users in the United States and India are among those who say they’ve had the feature for a while, with one iPhone owner stating that the same functionality has been available on iOS 11 for approximately a month now.
The Mountain View, California-based internet giant has yet to announce the rollout in any capacity and may take months to do so if its software developers still aren’t satisfied with how the functionality works. The assets pulled by the suggestions are the same one that are featured by Search information cards that the firm has been displaying for years. The change itself appears to only be affecting some mobile users and predictive search suggestions in both beta and stable desktop versions of Chrome are still accompanied by the same magnifying glass icon that’s been part of the functionality ever since Google introduced it, though the browser may eventually be updated with the newly uncovered thumbnails at a later date.