Ina Fried

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Google Gives Search a Deeper Voice and Adds Reminders and More to Google Now

Speaking about the future of search, Google’s Amit Singhal showed a slide promising “the end of search as we know it.”

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“Yes, it’s a provocative title, especially coming from Google, but I believe [it is here] with good reason,” Singhal said, speaking onstage at Google’s I/O conference in San Francisco.

Search needs to answer, converse and anticipate, and Google is working on doing all three, Singhal said.

In a demo, Johanna Wright demonstrated searching by voice for “things to do in Santa Cruz,” getting a page of results.

A follow-up query of “How far is it from here?” generated a result of “an hour and 21 minutes” from her present location. Wright dictated an email from Google’s mobile app and then added a reminder to call a particular friend when she gets to a city.

Google Now is adding support for reminders and public transit, along with info on upcoming TV shows and information on other entertainment types, such as books and videogames.

More statistical answers are coming to Google, as well as a graph comparing to other queries. Search for the population of India, for example, and you will get not only a graph of Indian population over time, but also a comparison to other countries.

Google is also adding Polish, Turkish and simplified and traditional Chinese to the languages where its knowledge graph is active.

“We’re just getting started,” he said. “We know we can do a whole lot better.”

Personalized results are important, such as being able to search for one’s “upcoming trip” or “vacation photos.” (Think Google Now for Google.com.)

You can speak a query like you would ask a friend, rather than typing into a search bar. Conversational search is live on iOS and Android, and is coming now to desktops and laptops.

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