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Monday, March 10, 2008, 03:15 pm PT (06:15 pm ET)

Apple's iPhone 2.0 firmware to bring contact search?

Tucked away in Apple's presentation of its iPhone and iPod touch version 2.0 upgrade was evidence of a search feature coming to the handset's contact list.

As noted in a post by blarg Kaboom, an inconspicuous magnifying glass icon — visible for just a few moments — appears just above the alphabet search strip in the Contacts application in one of Apple's slides during the presentation from last week.

Without a live demonstration of the feature, the exact behavior of the icon is uncertain. Nonetheless, the image resembles the Spotlight icon in Mac OS X Leopard, alluding to a likely search function for iPhone owners with large contact lists or specific search criteria.

Apple hasn't discussed the presence of the image. No users with access to the iPhone software development kit have reported the feature appearing in the contact list for the version 2.0 beta, however, which hints at a feature either pulled from the software or else shelved until its planned final release in June.

In November, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster fueled speculation by claiming that a phone-wide search feature would appear along with the iPhone SDK for Apple's official announcement, which was planned for February at the time. While the accuracy of the researcher's sources has yet to be settled, they suggested that users could search not just contacts, but also data within calendars and email messages.

The lack of search has been a frequently cited omission from the iPhone's feature set since its launch last June.