At the recent Google Search Evolution event late last year, Google Engineering VP Vic Gundotra demonstrated search suggestions on mobile devices that varied by location. He showed that query suggestions could and would be different based on user location.
Today Google is rolling that improvement out for the iPhone and Android devices. The geographic point of reference will be the phone’s current or most recent location if accurate current location cannot be determined:
The Google Mobile Blog explains:
For example, when users in the Boston metro area begin typing “Muse”, suggestions such as “museum of science boston” and “museum of fine arts boston” are provided because people near Boston frequently look for these very popular museums. On the other hand, users in San Francisco who begin their query with “Muse” will see suggestions for museums in the San Francisco area. By using the device’s current or most recent location, Google is able to offer even better, more useful suggestions than ever before.
This change will be imperceptible to most end users because they won’t have the benefit of comparing two handsets that think they’re in different locations. But it should make query entry faster and better on these phones as a general matter.
If you have time, here’s a lecture given by Google’s Maryam Kamvar from research conducted about text entry/Google Suggest on mobile devices a couple of years ago.
Query Suggestions for Mobile Search: Understanding Usage Patterns