How to Search Directly Within Apps on iOS 9

I have more than a hundred and fifty apps on my iPhone. While the first screen is neatly organized with my favorite apps, the next 4 pages are abysmal. But it doesn’t matter because most of the time, I just use Spotlight to search for apps. It’s only a down-swipe gesture away on the homescreen and it works (most of the time).

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All I do is swipe down from the homescreen and start typing an app’s name. Before I’m done with typing the first 2-3 characters, the app I want is right there as the first option. I tap and viola, I’m in the app.

If you’ve used an iPhone long enough, you must be familiar with this feature. If not, start using it now.

Because with iOS 9, Apple has gone one step forward. Now, with Spotlight, I can search for stuff within the apps. iOS 9 is still new but I found that many of my favorite apps like Drafts, Instapaper, Evernote, Workflow and more already support it.

iOS 9 primer: Check out the 9 new features in iOS 9 you should know about.

How Does it Work

iOS 9 has a feature called “Deep linking”. Once the developer enables the feature in their app, all of their content is indexed and available via Spotlight.

The easiest way to wrap your head around this is by using an example.

Say I want to open a Drafts or Evernote note where I keep all my article ideas.

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Before iOS 9, I’d have to search for Evernote or tap on the icon. Then from the homescreen I’ll need to scroll around and find the note.

In iOS 9, this has been condensed to just 1 step. I search for “Article ideas” and the note shows up. I tap it and boom, I’m in there. I just skipped Evernote’s loading screen and homescreen.

How You Should Use it

First, make sure that all your apps are updated. The best way to find out if the app supports Spotlight search or not is to see the description of the app when you’re updating it.

Or you can just search for something to figure it out.

The beauty of the Deep linking feature is how well it works and how it gives you a plethora of information on a single screen.

Let’s say you search for something generic like “Thanksgiving”. Now, on this one screen you see any emails that mention thanksgiving, your calendar appointment for that day, a note you’ve been working on or a recipe for a traditional turkey meal from a recipe app that you have installed.

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Some more examples:

If you use your iPhone a lot, you should start using the feature. Once you get good at searching within apps (the art is to know what exactly you’re looking for), you’ll see just how much time it saves you.

Bonus: Proactive Search and Suggested Apps

In iOS 9, there is a whole screen dedicated the Proactive Search.

What I like the most here is the app suggestions. Once you’ve used your iPhone or iPad for a couple of days, it will know what kind of apps you want to launch at particular time of the day.

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This app suggestions part is also present when you do the swipe-down gesture to enable Spotlight search. It’s shocking how often the app I want to open is already there.

What’s Your Favorite iOS 9 Feature?

Are you impressed by the new back button, the case sensitive keyboard or perhaps the low power mode? Share your favorite part of iOS 9 in our forums.

Last updated on 03 February, 2022

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