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Better search on your iPhone with Bang On

Bang On searches the Web and other apps on your iPhone or iPad quickly and efficiently.

If you are like me, you use the Google app or the Google search bar in Safari to perform Web searches on your iPhone. And then you use the search function within your various apps to search for something in a particular app. Well, no more! Spend $1.99 on Bang On, and you'll be able to search more quickly and efficiently.

Bang On is a universal app in more ways than one. It's a universal app in the sense that it works on both the iPhone and the iPad. It is also a universal search app in that you can use it to perform Web searches as well as search apps on your phone such as Instagram, Pandora, Spotify, Twitter, and YouTube.

You can also create custom searches, which the app calls "bangs," to search specific apps, search engines, or Web sites. And owners of the iPhone 4S or the new iPad can use the dictation button to search by voice.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Bang On is a souped-up, paid version of the DuckDuckGo app. With DuckDuckGo, you can perform Web searches but not the other apps on your phone as you can with Bang On.

When you launch Bang On, you'll see a standard search field at the top with a swipeable belt of bangs below it. You can type in a search term and then tap one of the bangs to narrow your search.

For example, if you wanted to read what people are saying on Twitter about Mick Jagger's turn as host of Saturday Night Live, you can type in "Mick Jagger SNL" and then tap the Twitter button.

Better yet, you could just hit the dictate button and say, "search for Mick Jagger SNL on Twitter" to perform the same search. A Twitter page will load right below Bang On's search field with the results.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Searching YouTube and Facebook on Bang On works the same way, though Pandora and Spotify work a bit differently. When you use Bang On to search these apps, you leave Bang On as the app opens the music app you asked it to search. Either way, it's a highly convenient way to search on your iPhone.

You can customize the shortcut belt of bangs. Tap the settings button in the upper-right corner and you can add, remove, and reorder the bangs on the favorites list. These are what appear in the swipeable belt below the search bar. Farther down on the settings page is an area where you can create your own shortcuts.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

I've been using Bang On for only a few days and it has already made its way onto my home screen. I find it much quicker to use it to search for YouTube videos, Twitter, and Spotify, instead of first opening those apps to perform a search.

What do you use to search on your iPhone or iPad? And if you use Bang On, what are some of your favorite uses for it? Let me know in the comments below.