iOS 4 features: Search the Web, Wikipedia


While iOS 3 (iPhone 3.0) introduced Spotlight search for on-device information like contacts, songs, and apps, iOS 4 examples Spotlight to search the Web and Wikipedia as well.

From the main home screen, just swipe to move left to Spotlight, or click the home button to toggle to it, and start typing your search. You may see the aforementioned local results start to pop up but you'll also see a Safari icon saying Search Web and a curiously blank icon saying Search Wikipedia.

Tap those and Spotlight fades, Safari comes up, and you're off and searching the internet.

Already familiar with this? Then let us know if you're using it and how it's working for you. Any advantage to just going straight to Safari or tapping open a Wikipedia app?

For more features, see our complete iOS 4 walkthrough.

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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There are 17 comments. Add yours.

Jordan says:

Hey idk if you guys already know this but I found out that if you're listening to music in sleep mode then when a song ends and a new one comes on, the screen will turn on to show you what song is now playing

Dan says:

dont use search light , i just go in safari :( i must be old school

Trixx says:

It'd be great if it could be customized to add say a dictionary search, or google maps..

west3man says:

Obviously, my iPad doesn't have this functionality, yet, but my Palm Pre has been doing this since it launched.
From card view (no more than a single button push or swipe away) I just start typing and it will automatically go to a website, search via Google, Wikipedia, etc, or open a contact.
Very useful. Very simple. Very awful...errr, awesome. :-)

west3man says:

Trixx's post reminds me that it also searches Google Maps. Other options are available via homebrew/patches but I don't remember what else is native, right now. It does not search for music, photos or documents and emails on the device, by this method.

Carlos Oliveira says:

"...a curiously blank icon saying Search Wikipedia."
What??? Everyone knows that the app icon only shows at the first entry. There's no "blank icon", Spotlight is telling us that the "Search Wikipedia" will open in Safari, like the previous entry ("Search Web").
Get your

impaler says:

Nice, didn't know about this one. Prevents me from finding my Wiki app every time.

pruitt says:

Searches the Web, searches Wikipedia, but still can't find my dentist. I entered "dentist" in the Job Title field. Spotlight does not look at job title in your contacts database. Anybody know why?
Some have said it's a limitation of a handheld device, but I don't think that's an adequate answer, especially when Palm did it a decade ago and the processor can now handle wikipedia.

Marcus says:

@Jordan I thought it was a bug because it is not always the screen turns on when the next track is playing

skew says:

It would be nice just to turn off the whole spotlight search screen. Its about a useless thing and gets in my way.

parabel says:

I use this method very often, and I'm glad I have one jailbreak tool (Universal Search) less to install, which ultimately keeps the Springboard running faster.

Calculus II says:

I plan to use Spotlight more now that I have over 200 apps and counting on my phone. I always forget about it.

Luis says:

Don't really use this feature since the rest of the OS is full of search bars :). And @Jordan. Tried, doesn't work on mine unless it's something u gotta activate

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