Google Adds Search Improvements
May 16, 2013

Google Adds Search Improvements

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

During yesterday´s 2013 I/O keynote, Google senior vice president Amit Singhal announced “the end of search as we know it” before unveiling new mobile-like features to the thing Google is most known for: Google search. By combining several features and services, Google plans to turn the search process from keyword=results to “Answer, Converse, Anticipate.” Knowledge Graph, Google´s system for returning quick answers to commonly asked questions, will be expanded into search and even grow to expect what will be searched for next. Google Now will be thrown into the mix, allowing search to learn more about you as you speak search without typing. Google Now will also be expanded to become a “fully assistive tool” by anticipating the searcher´s intentions and displaying more information. The Knowledge Graph and Google Now improvements are available today, but conversational search, which will be built into Chrome OS and the Chrome Browser, are set to release in the future.

The point of these improvements is to turn search into a more conversational affair, much like asking an omniscient friend about hot spots in Santa Cruz or when the next sci-fi flick is being released. Knowledge Graph can already answer a series of common questions that have a definite answer. For instance, a search for the population of Iceland returned a Knowledge Graph with the answer of 319,000; as well as a picture of the country´s flag, the country´s capital, their currency and even points of interest. According to Singhal, Google will continue to improve this feature to include even more entries in even more language. Yesterday, for instance, Knowledge Graph became available in Polish and Turkish.

As for conversational search, Google looks to borrow a bit from their Glass spectacles. The “Ok, Glass” of the as-of-yet unreleased specs will soon become the “Ok, Google” of search. This voice recognition search is already available in mobile versions of Google search, but the voice-activated version will be packed into upcoming versions of the Chrome OS and the Chrome Browser. With this feature installed, searchers only need to speak the words “Ok, Google” to begin a search, no clicking or tapping necessary. In an on-stage demo, one Google VP planned a quick trip to Santa Cruz, California with her family simply by speaking to her computer. Like other voice recognition services such as Siri, Google´s new conversational search will be able to understand queries in context, meaning it can understand what the words “it” and “here” mean. As with all things Google, these new builds of Chrome will learn about you while it´s used and as it works to anticipate what you might be asking next. For instance, if you ask about events coming up this weekend, it will be able to remind you that you already have a birthday party planned.

Google Now is also being upgraded with even more Cards, or the kinds of information it can display to users. The new and improved Now will be able to understand and set reminders, display public transport information, and even tell you all you want to know about your favorite books, television shows and video games. All of these queries can be asked with a simple voice command.

“People communicate with each other by conversation, not by typing keywords -- and we´ve been hard at work to make Google understand and answer your questions more like people do,” writes Amit Singhai in an introductory blog post.

“With just the tap of a mic or flick of a finger, millions of people across the world can easily tap into the entire world´s knowledge and find what they need to make their lives better, or just have their day run a little smoother. That´s why we´re so excited about the new search experience we´re building at Google and it will change how we experience life.”