Google Aims To Make Search More Universal
August 9, 2012

Google Move Towards The Search Engine Of The Future

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Google announced yesterday several advancements to their search lines, taking some “baby steps towards pre-emptive search,” allowing the search engine to better know its users.

Google´s search chief Amit Singhai introduced the features in San Francisco, saying the search engine will soon include Gmail messages in the search box. Additionally, Google also announced updates to their iOS app to include voice-based questions and answers, bringing the ease of speaking naturally to mobile search. Each of these announcements aim to make search more universal, bringing all manner of a user´s information underneath one Google umbrella.

Google´s Gmail search will only be available as a limited field trial at first, said Singhai. In a blog post, the search chief explained this new feature:

“Sometimes the best answer to your question isn´t available on the public web--it may be contained somewhere else, such as in your email. We think you shouldn´t have to be your own mini-search engine to find the most useful information--it should just work. A search is a search, and we want our results to be truly universal. So we´re developing a way to find this information for you that´s useful and unobtrusive, and we´d love your feedback.”

Ideally, the new unified search box would be able to present any relevant personal information from your inbox. In an example, Singhai said, “So if you´re planning a biking trip to Tahoe, you might see relevant emails from friends about the best bike trails, or great places to eat on the right hand side of the results page. If it looks relevant you can then expand the box to read the emails.”

Those Gmail users with flight information in their inboxes would also be able to type (or speak) “My Flights” into the new unified search box and be able to see their arrival and departure times.

Google also took the time Wednesday to announce a new Siri-like iOS app for search, allowing users to naturally speak their questions to the app in exchange for naturally spoken results.

The company told reporters on Wednesday that Apple´s Siri is the future of web search, and even went as far as to say, “if we are going to build the search of the future, we will have to solve difficult technology issues like speech recognition and natural language.”

Apple has slowly been distancing themselves from Google over the past year. Whereas Google once handled nearly every iOS search query, delivered their map data and even offered up YouTube videos via a native App, Apple´s next version of iOS stands to cut out Google almost entirely. Rather than route every query to Google, Siri will now ask for information from even more partners, such as Yelp, Wolfram Alpha, TomTom and even Yahoo Sports. Google´s new iOS app can be seen as a way to retain some of these iOS search queries as they hold on to whatever Apple traffic they´re able to.

According to Google, the new app should be available “within the next couple of days,” though they also said they submitted the app for approval “a week or so” ago. As Apple has a history with dragging their feet when it comes to approving Google apps (see Google Voice and Google Latitude) we might not see the new app for another week or so.