Classic and Alternative Mobile Search: A Review and Agenda

Classic and Alternative Mobile Search: A Review and Agenda

Matt Jones (Swansea University, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2068-1.ch002
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As mobile search turns into a mainstream activity, the author reflects on research that provides insights into the impact of current interfaces and pointers to yet unmet needs. Classic text dominated interface and interaction techniques are reviewed, showing how they can enhance the user experience. While today’s interfaces emphasise direct, query-result approaches, serving up discrete chunks of content, the author suggests an alternative set of features for future mobile search. With reference to example systems, the paper argues for indirect, continuous and multimodal approaches. Further, while almost all mobile search research has focused on the ‘developed’ world, the paper outlines challenges and impact of work targeted at ‘developing’ world contexts.
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Consider the last time you used a mobile search engine. What did you need to know? How urgent was your information need? What other resources did you have to hand to help you satisfy this need? Did the mobile help or were there some interaction or content issues?

A number of studies have been published in an attempt to understand the form and changes in mobile search behaviour. Two complementary types of analysis have been performed. First, log-files, held by mobile operators and search engine providers, containing millions of individual queries have been sifted. Typically, these studies determine mobile query lengths; click-through rates (where a click-through is defined as a search leading to a click to a result site); and, popular topics.

Log-files are only available to a very limited number of researchers, typically those working with the companies that create them. They also fail to capture important elements such as the intentions or needs behind the stark search terms or the context the query was performed within. Resources available to a user like other people, street signs, notebooks along with hurdles to entering a query and reviewing results – the busyness of a commuter street; the immersive chatter of a social gathering - need to be understood to gain a rich picture of mobile information needs. To overcome these log-file limitations, then, researchers have deployed human logging techniques: diary approaches and experience sample methodologies.

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