Google has once again tweaked its search results for music-related queries, adding links that open third-party music apps directly to play an artist’s songs. The new feature only works for U.S.-based Android users using the Google Search app on mobile devices and tablets, although Google product manager Jason Douglas writes in a blog post that the company is aiming for a worldwide rollout soon.
For now, U.S. Android users will see links to up to six apps, if a user has them installed: Rdio, iHeartRadio, Spotify, Google Play, TuneIn, and YouTube. Douglas wrote that Deezer will likely be part of upcoming international versions. Interestingly, Google has chosen not to prioritize its own services -- Google Play and YouTube -- over the others, and in fact spotlights the other four in its own demo screenshot in the blog post. Google has done similar things with other searches, such as recipe queries that redirect users to food apps.
A Google spokesperson said the company did strike partnerships to develop the function with the four third-party services, but they were all technical rather than financial deals, and none is prioritized above the others in a paid-placement situation. He added that the company is interested in adding similar functionality to other mobile search platforms, such as using the Chrome address bar or within the Google Search app for iOS, but some potential versions may be dependent on what other operating systems allow Google to do.
The new search function is reminiscent of Google’s 2009 attempt to add music to Web search results via third-party partners. The company’s Onebox feature included music streams from extant services Rhapsody and Pandora, alongside now-defunct Lala.com, Imeem and MySpace Music; it later faded from view in 2011 after some of the partners disappeared. Notably, both Rhapsody and Pandora are absent from the new mobile feature.