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AOL Enhances Mobile Search, Announces Study Results

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AOL has added several new features to its mobile search service, and has also released the findings of a recent mobile lifestyle survey.

AOL launched mobile search services in July 2005, offering web, local and shopping search services that were similar to those available at search.aol.com. Today, AOL has added a new "Surf the Web" option to its mobile search that makes it easy to both locate and view just about any web page without the aggravating scrolling that's often necessary using many web-enabled mobile devices.

The new AOL "Surf the Web" search allows you to type in keywords and automatically navigates to a web page that you're interested in. Better still, rather than simply rendering the page as found on your mobile device's tiny screen, the page is automatically and intelligently reformatted for your device.

"One size doesn't fit all for the mobile internet—we have to resize for the phone that's in your hand," said Raine Bergstrom, director of Emerging Technologies for AOL's wireless group.

Intelligent reformatting means that the most important content is identified and displayed first, regardless of its location on the web page. Graphics are resized to fit your screen. Most importantly, the main navigation for a site is identified and incorporated in a single "Quick Nav" link, rather than taking up important real-estate on your mobile device.

This means you see the most important content but also have access to all navigation on a site with a single, additional click. This is all done automatically for any site that you visit. It's a slick, intelligent way to view web content on a mobile device.

AOL has also enhanced its local search and mapping services for GIS enabled devices. Simply use the "locate me" function and from that point on all of your searches for AOL's mobile Cityguide, Moviefone and Mapquest Maps will automatically offer results based on your current location without any additional input.

A history of the phone's location and previous searches is also kept, and is accessible both via the mobile device and the web. This makes it easy to revisit favorite places—and also keep tabs on where a phone has been (of interest to some parents wanting to know where their teens have been, for example).

The new services are available to any web enabled phone at mobile.aolsearch.com/ (you can also view this on a computer to see what gets displayed on a mobile device).

Mobile Lifestyle Survey Results

AOL, in conjunction with the Associated Press and the Pew Research Center, has released results of a survey showing that Americans are becoming increasingly dependent on their mobile phones, and that the use of online mobile services is increasing. Some highlights:

  • 52 percent of adults keep their cell phone turned on all day, everyday
  • 40 percent of those aged 18-29 are likely to drop their landline
  • 30 percent of adults want to browse the Web from their cell phone
  • 47 percent say that mobile maps and driving directions are a "must have" on the next phone they buy

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