A recent update to the dedicated Google search app has apparently changed the way local searches work, forcing some users to find a workaround in order to search for installed apps. More specifically, upon updating the app, several users report that they can no longer simply tap the search bar and type in the first couple of characters in order to find an app and launch it. That's not necessarily a problem for the majority of users. However, although most Android users probably tap or swipe for the app drawer in order to start applications, that can be a hassle when hundreds of apps are installed. The ability to search local on-device content, including installed apps, is just one of many features added by the search giant over the years but the update seems to have broken that.
In order to get around bugs, a full reset is often the first fix that should be attempted. In this case, that doesn't seem to alleviate the problem at all and clearing app data only provides temporary relief. In fact, the only workaround that seems to completely remove the problem seems to be re-enabling the Google Feed. For clarity, that's the feed which appears on the far left home screen when enabled, allowing for a quick search or easy access to information Google deems pertinent to the user. It can be enabled readily enough in the Google app's settings. However, that's not ideal for those who like to keep home screens to a minimum or who simply don't want the Google app's U.I. and features on a dedicated screen. Moreover, it doesn't work with every launcher. The majority of users who have commented on associated threads to verify the workaround are using either a Pixel-branded device or a version of the Pixel Launcher. Others who are using secondary home screen replacement apps such as Nova Launcher are still unable to perform a local search.
It is possible that a rogue line of code may be responsible for the problem since it seems to be tied into the Google Feed feature directly – which may indicate an unintentional consequence of some other update to the app. Conversely, the perceived bug may be intentional. With that said, Google has yet to comment on the issue so there's no guarantee there will be a quick fix on the way in any case.