Google recently revealed new Search features that mark, in its words, a “fundamental transformation” in the way users look for and find content on the web. The updates all focus on a shift towards more tailored, personalized results. One major addition is activity cards, which surface pages you’ve already visited related to your current search. Another is a new “dynamic organization” of search results that provides users with relevant subtopics specific to their inquiry. For instance, when you search “pug,” you see subtopics like “buy or adopt,” “health,” and “how to train” in a row along the top of the primary result. Building off this change, Google is now testing a scroll overlay that shows the subtopics as you scroll further down in results.
— Shithousery Rocks 🇮🇳 (@CulerOver9000) October 2, 2018
An anonymous reader tipped us off about the scroll overlay last week, and since then we’ve seen another example pop up on Twitter (shown above). According to our first tipster (a beta tester for the Google app, running Android 9.0 on a Pixel 2 XL), the tab to scroll only pops up when he drags his finger up and down on the screen. Pressing on the scroll tab brings up the subtopics and allows users to scroll through them while also going up and down the results. The tipster notes that the feature isn’t fully polished, with some jitter occurring while he scrolls. So far, the overlay seems to be in testing with a limited group of users.
This user interface tweak reinforces Google’s interest in narrowing results to include only the most relevant subjects. As I noted before, this is useful, but also potentially limiting when it comes to discovery of new, or more obscure, content on the internet. Still, for better or worse, it’s happening.