Google announced a suite of new features Tuesday at their Inside Search event in San Francisco. Announced only a few days ago, prompting some to wonder if Google might pull an Apple and announce something big. At the last such event, the company announced Google Instant, the faster search feature that adds years of free time to your life. Today's product revelations are less life-changing but show how the search giant is betting big on mobile with Yelp-like shortcuts added to their mobile app home screen, voice search with a new desktop function and image recognition with a killer visual search tool. Google Instant just got a lot more instantaneous, too. Here's the full breakdown of announcements with some real-time reactions.
- Mobile Home Screen Shortcuts - Citing a trove of data (see below) Google is making a very educated guess about what people want when they open the search app. With mobile usage spiking on night's and weekends, a new set of shortcuts will show you the restaurants, cafes and bars near you. This little tweak definitely made an employee or two and Yelp and Foursquare, who so far have done well at dominating the fun navigation mobile apps. The quick reaction from Alexia Tsotsis at TechCrunch: "Useful."
- Voice Search on Desktop - A longtime staple on Google's mobile app, voice search is getting better and better. Product manager Mike Cohen boasted that the technology now supports 27 languages and dialects, and the equivalent of two years of non-stop speech from users passes through Google's servers daily. That number's set to rise as Google will be adding the features to the desktop. VentureBeat's Anthony Ha says, "Not only is speaking the search faster than typing for many people, it also helps you search for things you don’t know how to spell. And by making voice search more ubiquitous, Google is training people to use it more often."
- Search by Image - Graphic designers will love this one. It's always been tough to find images on Google, especially if you're looking for one similar to what you've found elsewhere. The new search by image tool allows you to drag an image from your desktop into the search input field and hitting "search" will return a slew of images matching yours. (You can also input an image URL, upload an image from your desktop or use a Chrome or Firefox extension.) Along with the new voice capability, Gizmodo's Kyle Wagner says, "The Grand Poobah of search is taking two ass-kicking steps forward in desktop search."
- Instant Pages - Starting next week in the Chrome browser, Google will preload top search results into your browser so that when you search "teh atlantic wire," it will not only correct your typo and return our website, but also save you the 2-5 seconds it would take to load the site once you click through. (More years added to your life!) There's even some prediction algorithms built in. Jemima Kiss explains at The Guardian, "Instant Pages employs the user's Google search history together with the relevance of each search result, and around 200 other algorithmic factors, to determine which link they are most likely to click on, and begins contacting the server to load that page in the background as soon as the search results appear."
The new products announced are about half as interesting as Google's opening their kimono to reveal some fascinating search stats. Here's a neat graphs courtesy of Jason Kincaid at TechCrunch.
More people are now Googling on their mobile devices than on their desktops:
Desktop search volume by day of the week:
Mobile search by day of the week:
Desktop search by time of day:
Mobile Search by time of day: