Google expands mobile search

Google introduced a mobile search service that only indexes pages formatted specifically for mobile devices' display.

Google has rolled out a new search service that only links to pages that have been formatted for display in mobile devices' small screens.

To access this XHTML-based service, users need to have a mobile device with a Web browser and enter a query in the search box at http://www.google.com or http://www.google.com/xhtml.

Mobile users can already perform searches from these locations, but on Thursday, Google added a new "Mobile Web" option to the pages. When this button is selected, users will only receive links to pages that have been formatted for the smaller displays of mobile devices, according to Google.

Other options available to mobile users are "Web," to run a query against the full Google Web index, "Images," to search for pictures, and "Local," to hit Google's business directory for local merchants.

Google also offers a similar Web search service for phones that support WML (wireless markup language) instead of XHTML (extensible markup language.) However, WML doesn't support images, so searching for pictures isn't possible using this service, which is available on a mobile device's browser at http://www.google.com/wml. The Mobile Web option is not available on WML phones.

If a user is unsure which markup language his phone supports, Google suggests trying both google.com/xhtml and google.com/wml to see which one works.

Another mobile search option from the company is Google SMS, which lets users retrieve text information from the search index using Short Message Service technology. To tap this service, users need to send a query as a text message to Google's SMS code, which is 46645, and they will receive text results typically after a minute's wait. Google SMS has been designed to provide factual information such as local business listings, driving directions, movie showtimes, weather conditions and product prices.

Google's mobile search services are free, although mobile carriers may apply charges related to data transmission or Web browsing.

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