With an ongoing parade of changes, Google has been steadily bringing its mobile site closer in line with Google.com's desktop experience.
Last week the search giant refurbished image search and added "Place pages" for iPhones and Android phones accessing Google from the browser. On Wednesday, Google made over its general search results page--this time for both the desktop and smartphone.
On the desktop, a Google search will soon show a column of extra options that help you narrow your search. This additional helper menu appeared almost exactly a year ago, in May 2009, as an easily overlooked button heading up the search results page (see image below). Starting today, that column will be attached by default to the desktop view.
Google's sidebar-filter modifications don't manifest exactly the same on iPhone and Android, however, as they do on the desktop--and that's a good thing. The constricted screen size of a handheld device calls for adaptations in design, or else you'd end up seeing very little of the actual results.
In the mobile case, Google has formulated its new left rail much as it did on the desktop, but instead of automatically displaying filters after you search, you'll have the option of popping the sidebar open or closed by tapping an arrow to the left of the search field.
This opt-in behavior not only emulates the "show/hide options" button of the original desktop interface, it also underscores that the mobile version has something the new desktop design now lacks: a way to keep the filters from view.
Google's search filter options for iPhone and Android work only in the U.S. at this juncture. Google says it will expand support to additional phones and locations "in the weeks to come," and will increase the number of available search filters.