Tip of the Day: Spotlight in iOS 8 Offers Movie Info, Web Search, Wikipedia, Maps, and More

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Spotlight has long been a great feature of iOS, and is especially useful at helping you find apps that are buried away in a folder on your device. Since iOS 7 you invoke this handy search tool by simply swiping down on any home screen. (But keep in mind that if you swipe down from the very top of the display you'll get Notification Center instead.) In iOS 8, introduced last fall, Apple greatly expanded what Spotlight can do. In addition to finding apps and text strings in apps such as Mail and Notes, it also now searches the web, searches Wikipedia, finds related apps in the App Store, finds related movies, and even brings up results in Maps if you search on a location.

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To use Spotlight, simply swipe down on any homescreen and type in your search term. A search on "bitcoin" brings up the Wikipedia entry, the Bitcoin Ticker app in the App Store, a movie on iTunes titled "The Rise and Fall of Bitcoin," the Coinbits app on my iPad, email messages that mention bitcoin, and web search results related to bitcoin using the Bing search engine.

When you do a search, you'll notice that the onscreen keyboard covers the bottom portion of the results. As you likely know, you can tap the keyboard icon in the bottom right of the keyboard to make it disappear.

One thing confused me. When I tried to swipe up to scroll the results, the Spotlight screen would disappear. I found that instead of scrolling by dragging one finger, as one would do to scroll in other apps, one needs to swipe up or down with two fingers when scrolling the Spotlight search results.

Note that your search results persist in Spotlight. You can do a search, use another app, and then when you swipe down again on a home screen to invoke Spotlight, your previous results will still be available.

Top image credit: Sergey Nivens / Shutterstock.com

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Jim Karpen's picture

Jim Karpen holds a Ph.D. in literature and writing, and has a love of gizmos. His doctoral dissertation focused on the revolutionary consequences of digital technologies and anticipated some of the developments taking place in the industry today. Jim has been writing about the Internet and technology since 1994 and has been using Apple's visionary products for decades.