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Google announces a number of new search features

On Monday, Google announced a number of new innovations at its “Inside Search” event. The new features included Voice Search, a Mobile Update, Instant Pages and Search by Image.

Voice Search the already available, and very useful feature for mobile devices has been brought to the desktop. I’m not sure how useful this will be for desktops but Google suggests Voice Search will be great for:

  • Hard-to-spell searches – Makes searching words you’re not sure how to spell quicker and easier
  • Longer searches – Search long queries, even really, really long queries, just by talking
  • Searches that are just more fun to search out loud – Now you can ask your computer anything!
  • Searching without typing – Use it in the kitchen, in the garage or anytime your hands might be full

Mobile Homepage Update – A new addition to the Google mobile homepage is 3 new touch friendly buttons for Restaurants, Coffee, Pubs & Bars and More, shifting even more emphasis on Google’s local search. As well as the homepage update, the layout for the results has had a face lift with a scrolling list of places now below an updating map and image. Again, some more touch friendly buttons have been added to listings for viewing  reviews or calling.

Instant Pages – In Google’s attempt to save people time, following on from Instant Search is Instant Pages.  Google gets the top search result ready in the background while you’re choosing which link to click, saving valuable seconds. As you scan the results deciding which one to choose, Google is already pre-rendering the top search result, when clicked, it loads instantly, very nice!

To use Instant Pages, you’ll want to get the next beta release of Chrome, which includes pre-rendering (for the adventurous, you can try Instant Pages today with the developer version).

Search by Image – Google’s new search by image function means users can explore the web in an entirely new way by beginning their  search with an image (although not exactly original as TinEye have been doing this for some time). The new Google function has 3 different ways to search:

  • Drag and drop – Drag and drop an image from the web or your computer into the search box on images.google.com
  • Upload an image – On images.google.com, click the camera icon, then select “Upload an image.” Select the image you want to use to start your search
  • Copy and paste the URL for an image – Right-click an image in your browser to copy the URL. On images.google.com, click the camera icon, and “Paste image URL”

The impact of these new features on how the average person searches is very much open for debate:

  • Mobile updates - the mobile changes put more importance on ensuring you places pages are up-to-date and as informative as possible
  • Voice Search – It is unlikely to have any significant, short-term impact but if it did take off could lead to an increase in longer tail searches
  • Instant Pages – Instant pages signifies the importance of a fast loading site. Google is unlikely to look favourably on a slow loading site as it would lead to an increased strain as it pre-loads pages
  • Search by Image – May be interesting for retail and see some impact on the way some people search for products, especially when combined with mobile

Watch this space!

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