If there is one aspect of the Mac OS that Mac users love to gripe about it is OS X's desktop search feature, Spotlight, which was initially introduced in OS X 10.4. While it does an adequate job of searching a Mac system's files, its functionality leaves a lot to be desired. Even with improvements to Spotlight, such as adding Boolean search operators with the release of OS X 10.5 (Leopard), many Mac users still feel that Spotlight is missing a lot of needed functionality; and because Apple has been unable to adequately meet the needs of many of its users, third-party developers stepped in and produced more functional applications to perform system searches--as well as act as application launchers--such as LaunchBar, Butler, and QuickSilver.
Now Google is getting into this game as well with the recent release of the developer preview of its "very experimental
" Quick Search Box (QSB) for the Mac. As Google is all about search, such an app really shouldn’t come as a surprise. But making this even more of a good fit is the fact that the developer of QuickSilver, Nicholas Jitkoff, is now part of the Google Mac Team that is developing QSB. The Google Code Project page for QSB explains QSB as follows:"Google Quick Search Box is an open source search box that allows you to search data on your computer and across the web. This app is very experimental, but through it you will be able to see many of the areas we are exploring: contextual search, actions, and extensibility. It is by no means feature-complete, but is a very good indication of things to come."
Anyone can download and install QSB on a Mac, as long as the Mac is running OS X 10.5. Google explains why it is making this developer preview available to the public:"We are eager to involve users in the development process and will be posting new builds frequently. Over the coming months we'll be posting a few articles about the architecture and interaction we are exploring, and we look forward to your feedback."
It's not clear exactly how QSB differs from the Google Desktop (beta) app, other than that Google Desktop is a more robust application, which supports additional features such as Google Gadgets. Also, while Google Desktop uses its own indexing engine, we are under the impression that QSB doesn't actually do any indexing itself, but instead uses Spotlight's index for searched of a system's files.
QSB actually does a lot more than search for filenames; it also performs Web searches, opens Websites, launches applications, searches the Address Book for contacts, searches your iTunes library for song names and artists, provides word definitions, looks up the weather, and even performs simple math functions. The current version does not support searching Gmail or Firefox, however, but the developers are working on adding it. There is no word yet when or even if the app will be officially released--in fact, as many Google apps appear to stay in perennial beta status, it is possible that QSB might never be officialy released; but as are the vast majority of Google's apps, QSB is free.