About two months ago, a new search feature was launched for Chrome on Android called Touch to Search. And now I noticed the prompt to enable it on my iPhone, so I gave it a try. For now, the feature is apparently not available to everyone, according to the support documentation – maybe it rolls out to more powerful devices first. It can be turned on and off from the browser Settings, under ‘Privacy’ ► ‘Touch to Search’.
As the name implies, when you tap a word in Chrome a new card shows up at the bottom of the screen with the Google logo and the highlighted text. Tap it or drag up to expand the card on the bottom half of the screen – at this point you can see a definition of the word or the first search results for the phrase. You can also drag it all the way to the top, in which case the search results will replace the original page and you can browse through them like on any regular Google search. When you’re done you can dismiss the overlaid results by dragging down. Or you can tap on the search term at the top to search for something else or refine the query, but it that case the results break off from the original page and to return you need to switch to that tab in the background. It’s a useful feature, a good touch-based implementation of the desktop version, where you right-click a text selection to search with the default search engine. Safari has something similar, but it’s a multiple-step process: highlight some text, click ‘Define’ (which shows results from the local dictionaries) and then ‘Search Web’.