CloudMagic’s Metro app delivers speedy, accurate search results, but its limited by Windows 8’s own limits.
CloudMagic has gone Metro. The excellent search service, which I’ve been a fan of since it made its debut in 2010, is now available as a native application for Windows 8’s Metro interface. CloudMagic’s Windows 8 edition still delivers super-speedy, accurate search results across a host of services, but it is a bit hamstrung by some of Windows 8’s own problems.
You can download the CloudMagic app from Microsoft’s Windows Store, and it installs quickly. If you already have a CloudMagic account, the app remembers all of your settings, and doesn’t need much in the way of set up: You log in and you’re good to go.
If you don’t have a CloudMagic account already, the signup process is simple, and it’s easy to link the services you’d like it to search. CloudMagic currently searches the following services: AOL, Box, Dropbox, Evernote, Facebook, Gmail, Google Apps, Google Drive, Google Talk, GMX, Hotmail, iCloud, Mail.com, Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync, Microsoft Office 365, MSN, Outlook.com, SkyDrive, Twitter, Windows Live, and Yahoo Mail. You simply grant CloudMagic access to the accounts you’d like it to search, and it goes to work indexing them.
While the basics are the same, the actual experience of using CloudMagic as a Windows 8 Metro app is very different from using it in your browser, as an extension. Where the browser extension displays results right on the Web page you’re viewing, the Metro app is its own standalone app. You search from within the app itself and see all of the results in there, too.
I do like how CloudMagic still organizes the results by type: You can see messages, people, files & docs, posts & updates, and events, and you can limit your search to just one of these categories if you have an idea of what you’re looking for.
As always, CloudMagic’s results appear quickly, in real-time as you type, and proved to be very accurate. And CloudMagic’s subscription model is in place: you can view 50 free “previews” each month. (CloudMagic considers a preview the action you take after getting the search result, in which you click the result that seems relevant and you’re shown a quick preview of the content it returned.) If you want to see more than 50 previews, you’ll need to hand over $5 a month for a Pro account.
What’s different about CloudMagic’s Metro app is its Metro-fied interface, which displays results in large text in a column on the left side of the screen. I didn’t test it on a touch-screen device, but I can see how this interface would work well with one. Clicking on one of the results brings up a preview on the right side of the screen. Depending on what type of content this preview contains, you’ll also see certain options underneath the preview. If it’s an email message, for example, you’ll see options that include “Reply” and “Open.”
Here’s the unfortunate part of using CloudMagic in the Windows 8 modern UI: Much of the content that CloudMagic searches is available from services—like Facebook and Gmail—that are not yet available as Metro apps. So, when you open them, you’re taken to your browser, back in Windows 8’s Desktop interface. The experience isn’t exactly seamless, especially because being back in your browser shows you the CloudMagic browser extensions—which reminded me, at least, of how much I like using it. It lets you switch between sites and services with ease.
This flaw isn’t CloudMagic’s fault—they can’t make Google and Facebook release Metro apps, after all—as much as it is a reminder of the limits of Windows 8. The good news is this: When Windows 8 improves, so, too, will the experience of using CloudMagic’s Metro app.
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Liane Cassavoy is a veteran technology and business journalist. She contributes regularly to PCWorld and has written about business issues and products for Entrepreneur Magazine and other publications. She is the author of two business start-up guides published by Entrepreneur Press.