In an official blogpost today, Google announced that it was sprucing up its search engine in some new and disturbing ways. The blogspot read:
Larry Page once described the perfect search engine as understanding exactly what you mean and giving you back exactly what you want. It’s very much like the computer I dreamt about as a child growing up in India, glued to our black-and-white TV for every episode of Star Trek. I imagined a future where a starship computer would be able to answer any question I might ask, instantly.
So what exactly has changed in Google search in the year 2012? Here’s a quick look:
Email in Google search: Well for starters should you choose to sign up, results from your Gmail will appear on the right side of your search. So say you type the word mountain bike, in Google search, then your email conversations from the past with the word mountain bike will show up in the results too.
This change has already sparked off privacy concerns with users not too happy at the way Google is searching personal email to blend with regular search. There are also concerns around someone else using your computer, and search yielding results from your personal email. Yes, open aanother session, you might say, but everyone doesn’t do that. For now this feature isn’t compulsory, but Google does intend to incorporate it into search at some point.
This follows two other significant changes such as the introduction of Knowledge Graph and Google Plus into search results.
The Knowledge Graph was launched in May in the US. This feature draws from a Google-built database of more than 500 million people, places and commonly requested things to provide a summary of vital information along the main search results.
According to reports, the search engine spent the past two years crawling Wikipedia, the CIA Factbook and other sources to expand a database of 12 million items that it picked up as part of its 2010 acquisition of Metaweb.
The Knowledge Graph was until recently available only in the US but Google in today’s blogpost said they are rolling it to out every English speaking country. It’s not yet available in India.
Knowledge Graph, gives users extra information about the term they search for in the right hand-side. From Wikipedia links to fun-facts, this is Google’s way of making search more intelligent. But more than that it is also a testament to the kind of data that Google has managed to acquire over the years.
Google plus in search: This is of course a change from January when Google announced that it would incorporate results from its social network Google Plus into users’ search results. What this meant was that if any of your friends had clicked plus one on a post, then that too would be part of the search results. Other features included recommending additional people and companies to follow on Plus, based on search requests.
Google’s idea was that it was making search more social, especially in line with growing competition with Facebook which has a lot of social content shared within the site. Google plus is still nowhere near Facebook in terms of numbers, usage or popularity.
Google has also spruced up its Search App for the iPhone and the iPad to include Voice search on the lines of Apple’s Voice agent, Siri. For more on that you can click here.
Google’s search engine has evolved vastly from what it was at the beginning — social network results to specialised graphs, to interactive doodles — a mere list of links.