HTML5 (the new version of html) has a number of new features, and one of those features is that there is a new type of input that is basically the same as the normal input field (like the one you use to write your title when you ask a question on SE) accept that when you start typing a little x appears on the right of the form. When you click that x, the form clears itself. The html code for it is <input name="q" type="search"> (it's only supported in webkit browsers). See this page for more information: http://diveintohtml5.info/forms.html

Right now I am wondering if there are any usability benefits to having a input field like that, besides the fact that apple does it in itunes and some of it's other applications. Personally, it seems like a waste of time for it to be included in the html5 specification, since it doesn't seem like it's that big of a deal.


By letting the browser and other webs to know that a specific input is a search box some aids can be provided to the user that can improve user experience. For the client side, the browser can provide search history (I include an image from an analysis on the search input element), the browser could also pre-fetch results as you type, or offer specific UIs such as chrome does with omnibox.

enter image description here

In addition, other web pages could integrate your search, in a similar manner as google results integrate a custom search when you look for the term "cinema" to indicate location:

enter image description here

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    "the browser can also pre-fetch results as you type" is not in any way related to the search input type or browsers, it must be implemented manually with specific javascript/server-side code. In fact, google is using type="text" on all the search inputs and doing all the chrome and functionality manually, nothing to do with HTML5 at all. Jul 12 '11 at 18:09
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    The idea was to illustrate some potential benefits that could be obtained by telling that an input is not a regular input but a specific search box. My intention was not to indicate that using search input was the only manner to achieve those features. In fact, features such as the pre-fetching are not automatically obtained, but web browsers could do the job in the future without you to implement it (in the same way that they hide the text writen in a password field). I edited the answer to avoid confusion regarding which benefits are obtaine and which ones could be obtained in the future.
    – Pau Giner
    Jul 12 '11 at 18:27
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    it is correct in that the field isn't fetching data, but it can be preloaded with data allowing for a look-ahead/filter interaction being built by the browser itself.
    – DA01
    Jul 12 '11 at 18:30

They can definitely make using a mobile device easier. Alas, mobile device support for the full feature set of the search field is sporadic at the moment. For instance, desktop Safari supports the 'x' but mobile Safari does not.

Going forward, the main benefit of most HTML5 input fields will be that you can leverage the browser's native input controls, which will ideally be designed for the particular device one is using.


I think you might have missed the benefit of these new input types.

As Pau notes they extend the 'accessibility' of forms. The search type does far more than apply a different UI, ask any developer who's tried to develop or optimise search fields to offer history features and they'll almost always say its easy to do but incredibly difficult to do well - this search input simplifies an awful lot of backend coding.

Other new form attributes in html 5 are really useful particularly on mobile and the details are worth continuing with so that the experiences we all design make use of the extended functionality.

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