Google announced that users who participate in its Gmail and Google.com search field trial are now able to also see results from their Gmail contacts from Search. This, the company explains, means you’ll be able to ask Search things like “what’s Brittney’s address?” or you can simply say “Joanna’s phone number,” for instance, in order to query your address book from Google.
The service is meant to be most helpful to users on the go, and works through Google’s Voice Search interface as well, also returning a map and turn-by-turn directions along with address search results, or phone numbers that you can tap to immediately place the call.
Google’s field trials have been underway for some time now, and are open only to U.S. users with a Gmail (not Google Apps) email account. Once opted in, users can google for things like files stored in Google Drive, restaurant and hotel reservations, flights, recent receipts, relevant emails, and, as of earlier this year, upcoming and scheduled events in Google Calendar. The service also integrates with third parties, including OpenTable, Ticketmaster, Eventbrite and more, to help it find the relevant info in your email.
Though the service is incredibly handy for those who are able to give it a shot, it’s unlikely that it will ever become the default because of the sensitive nature of the data it queries — users’ own inboxes and calendars. Many people won’t be comfortable giving Google that level of access, especially following the PRISM debacle and the heightened awareness over user privacy that introduces.
Current Google field trial users won’t have to do anything to gain access to the new feature, the company says, and support for Google+ profiles is coming soon. Other interested U.S. users can sign up for the field trial here.