Searching, especially on mobile, is increasingly based on your location. For Google Search and Maps, specific service is determined by the country you’re in. However, in a change today, country-specific services no longer require that users visit a regional version of Google.
Country services used to be distinguished by the country code top-level domain names (ccTLD) such as google.fr for France or google.co.uk for England.
However, starting today, country services will no longer be determined by domain. By default, you’ll now automatically be served the appropriate country service without seeing a change in Google’s ccTLD.
So if you live in Australia, you’ll automatically receive the country service for Australia, but when you travel to New Zealand, your results will switch automatically to the country service for New Zealand. Upon return to Australia, you will seamlessly revert back to the Australian country service.
Google wants to stop the practice of manually entering the top-level domain to get a country’s services, with that ability being removed. For instance, visiting google.com.br (for Brazil) in the United States, will still yield US-specific results.
Instead, users can go into settings to select the correct country service. Meanwhile, that country selection will be listed at the bottom of every search results page
Today’s changes are specific to Google Search and Maps on the web and the Google iOS app, with other services like Google Earth, Gmail, and YouTube already functioning this way. Google notes that today’s change will not affect the way these products work, “nor will it change how we handle obligations under national law.”