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Google Play Store tests a permanent Search Bar to enhance Usability

A fresh interface tweak might change how users navigate the Play Store.

Article Summary

  • Google is experimenting with a permanent search bar on the Google Play Store app's homepage, which could improve the user experience.

  • The search bar area, which includes access to the app's settings menu, now stays in place as you scroll through content in any tab on the Play Store's homepage.

  • Rooted Android users can enable the experimental feature right now by using a hidden flag and the GappsMod tool.

Google keep modifying and tries to improve the Google Play Store design for better user experience. One of its latest endeavors is a notable one since Google is experimenting with a permanent search bar on the app's homepage. For frequent users of the Play Store, this will be a fresh deviation from the familiar.

Spotted by AssembleDebug, who runs the Google Apps Flags & Leaks community on Telegram, the Play Store app has a hidden feature flag that anchors the search bar in place, indicating Google is at least testing the new functionality. The app currently hides the search bar area of the app when you scroll, which also includes access to the main settings menu and notifications area. With the flag enabled, the entire action bar area is pinned in place, regardless of which homepage tab you're viewing. This makes it much easier to access the menu for things like app updates and offers.

What's intriguing is that, although this permanent search bar is in its experimental phase, rooted Android users can get a glimpse of it and enable the feature with the flag SearchHome__enable_search_home in the package You'll need GappsMod, which is available on GitHub. If you'd like some more help, AssembleDebug has outlined a similar process on his blog, The SP Android.

But why is Google making these experiments and changes? It's part of the tech giant's ongoing mission to refine the Android ecosystem, ensuring the Play Store remains user-friendly and efficient. This aligns with their recent introduction of the auto app archiving option, a feature that optimizes storage by automatically archiving apps that haven't been used for a while. This was initially only available to users with low storage, but now, it's available for everyone to toggle on and off, emphasizing Google's efforts to enhance user experience.

We also saw the Play Store enable a darker dark mode just last week in a change that already appears to be live for most users. The updated background still utilizes Material You dynamic theming, which injects the dark gray background in most apps with a touch of color that complements your device wallpaper. The darker shade of gray should even help to save a bit of battery life on phones with AMOLED displays, as darker colors require the individual pixels of the screen to emit less light.

Google's continuous tweaks, whether it's an ever-present search bar or a theme touch-up, demonstrate its commitment to refining the Play Store's interface. If this permanent search bar becomes a staple feature, it could mean quicker, more direct searches for users. As the Play Store continues its evolution, one thing remains certain, Google's dedication to enhancing its usability. And for those eager to get a taste of the future, the rooted Android community offers a gateway to what might soon become mainstream.


This article has been written by Matthew Zucca and published in Android Police.

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