Google's Smart Search now showing up on more Android phones

Finding just about anything on your phone is about to get a whole lot easier.
Written by Artie Beaty, Contributing Writer
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Finding a certain file or photo on your Android phone is about to get a whole lot easier thanks to a new offering from Google. 

A feature called Smart Search has been slowly rolling out in Google Files for some time, but it's just now getting a wider release and we're getting a full look at exactly what it can do.

Also: Google is beefing up AI-powered search on Google Chrome for iOS and Android

Powered by machine learning, the feature will let users search for a file not only by name, but search for text from images and PDFs, search locations and objects from pictures, find an artist, album, and title from audio and video files, and more.

For example, if you're trying to find a boarding pass for a flight, you can search by airline, destination, airport, or booking company. And if you're trying to find a letter you downloaded from work, you can search for a word it contains. You'll be able to track down what you're looking for no matter what the file name is. 

Google Photos does have a similar feature that works quite well for finding certain objects or people in pictures; an option that works for documents and other file types could be very useful. Another bonus: The Files version of this feature works fully offline.

Also: The best Android phones that we tested this year

There are a few caveats, however. A Google Support document for the feature notes that files are only scanned periodically. There's no mention of how often scanning takes place; it may take a while for a new file to be indexed. And, Google says you should "wait a few days" to use the feature after you turn it on for the first time. I did have the feature on my Pixel 8 Pro when I checked, but it didn't seem to be able to actually find any files yet. 

Smart Search isn't available for everyone yet, Google says, but for those that have access to it, you'll see the option to turn it on under the settings menu in Google Files. 

If you use your phone for file storage and organization -- as more people are doing these days -- the ability to more easily find a certain file is a huge upgrade. And while Smart Search is still in its very early stages, if it works as intended, it could be a huge selling point. 

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