Sep, 26 2013

Google 1998


It was back in 1998 that Google first went live and in many ways it’s quite literally changed our world (or at least how we searched through it). Of course, things looked a whole lot different back then, as shown in Google’s latest easter egg (also pictured above). To celebrate their 15th birthday, Google invited a handful of press to an event in Menlo Park. It was there they announced a handful of new features that will make Google Search better than ever before.

Google Search Timeline

Probably the biggest development in Search is Google’s all new “Hummingbird” algorithm. An upgrade from “Caffeine”, Hummingbird silently rolled out over a month ago and according to Google, does a much better job at handling complex questions while understanding concepts. Google says Hummingbird will affect about 90% of the search requests they receive, and the websites they index. Have you noticed any changes during these past few weeks?

Richer answers with comparisons, filters and sorting

Google Search update Android

You knew it was coming. Google has redesigned Search on smartphones and tablets adding a more card-like UI. Speaking of Google’s fascination with cards, they now pull up more information from Google’s Knowledge Graph than ever before. Aside from the usual info like the recently rolled out nutrition information, you can also ask Google for comparisons as well. This will display 2 cards side-by-side, making it easy to see information for both at a glance. It’s only limited to a small amount of things at this point — food items, planets, or dog breeds — but you can expect the list to grow in the future (maybe smartphone comparisons?).

Better conversation on Android Google Search App

Google’s also added filters and the ability to follow up queries without repeating the original. Google’s gave us the example of someone searching for “impressionist artists” at which point the results will also have options for filters such as “contemporary” or “abtract”. Also, searching “Eiffel Tower”, it’s now possible to follow up with “How tall is it?” or “When was it built?” to pull up additional information — all without mentioning the original query.

Notifications, reminders & hotwording on iOS Google Search App

iPhone Triptych - Clear Background

A little less Android related, the Google Search app for iOS will also be getting push notifications for cross syncing reminders. Although nowhere near as full featured as it is on Android (Google Now is the bees-knees), you can now tell Google to “Remind me to buy the Pebble smartwatch at Best Buy” on your Android tablet, and the next time you pass by your local Best Buy while on your iPhone, you’ll receive a reminder via push notification you about the Pebble. Google will also remind you to pick up an Android phone while you’re at it (okay, maybe not).

There’s a lot of big changes here, and it’s crazy to think this all started 15 years ago. As for future updates, Google promises they’re just getting started. Anyone particularly fond of the new changes? We imagine it wont be too much longer before Google’s Knowledge Graph becomes self aware and destroys us all. Happy birthday, Google!

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