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Google expands mobile search

Small-screeners can weed out oversize pages

Mobile users can now search specifically for web pages that have been formatted for display on their devices’ small screens, thanks to a new offering from Google.

To access this service, based on XML (extensible markup language), owners of a mobile device with a web browser should enter a query in the search box at either www.google.com or www.google.com/xhtml.

Mobile users can already perform searches from these locations, but on Thursday 16 June, 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’, which runs a query against the full Google web index, ‘Images’, a picture search, and ‘Local’, for those who want to use 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 XML at www.google.com/wml. However, WML doesn't support images, so searching for pictures isn't possible using this service. The Mobile Web option is not available on WML phones, either.

Google suggests that users who are unsure which markup language their phones support should try both www.google.com/xhtml and www.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 messaging service technology. To make use of this service, users should send a query as a text message to Google's SMS code (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, cinema times, 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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