Knowing Me, Knowing You: Google Knowledge, Mobile Search... and a Birthday

It’s Google’s 15th birthday today and to celebrate, the online giant would like to remind you about the aspect of its business that started it all: Google Search. Much of this year’s birthday bash has been centred around the search function, whether it be via the nostalgic Easter Egg they’ve released…

google1997

google1997

Ah, memories... what Google looked like back in 1997

… Or by launching a raft of new search features and improvements.

Top of the priority list is the expansion of Google Knowledge to make searches for popular categories even more extensive.

While the Google Knowledge Carousel has been around for a couple of months, its capacity for comparisons via search has been upgraded.

You may have already noticed that if you search for something that’s part of a category, like “Beatles members”, the Google Knowledge Carousel will appear at the top of the screen, in the case of this particular search listing John, Paul, George, Ringo…. as well as Pete Best and Stuart Sutcliffe (hey, it’s nothing if not thorough!).

beatles members

beatles members

The Beatles members appearing at the top of screen, in the Google Knowledge Carousel.

Then, if you click on each member’s face within the Carousel, search results based on that name will come up.

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 11.30.26 AM

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 11.30.26 AM

Oh, hi George.

Today, Google announced a series of improvements to the mobile search interface, making it more touch-oriented, and they also gave users a preview of the new Google Search App for iOS, set to launch in a few weeks’ time.

Openly admitting that the end-goal is a fully interactive app across all devices, via which, “Ideally, you wouldn’t need to pull out your phone or tap buttons to use Google”, Google has incorporated voice activation into the Google Search App for mobile devices.

The feature has been improved to incorporate voice instructions on Android phones (and will soon be arriving on iOS as well), so if you say to Google, “Tell me about the Beatles members”, your phone will bring up those search results.

Even better, you can then filter the same results – the example Google uses is a search for “Impressionist artists”, which then offers up genre filters including “abstract”, “baroque” and “contemporary”.

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 12.00.46 PM

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 12.00.46 PM

The Black Eyed Peas: a popular Google search.

While the likelihood of a particular set of categories appearing in the Knowledge Carousel is currently determined by the popularity of that search (“Black Eyed Peas members” works; “Black Keys members” doesn’t), Google says it’s finetuning the feature all the time.

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 12.01.20 PM

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 12.01.20 PM

The Black Keys: evidently not quite as sought after.

Another new feature is the ability to compare different search terms, such as “butter vs olive oil”.

Nexus 4 - Butter v Olive Oil

Nexus 4 - Butter v Olive Oil

Easily compare searches on your mobile device.

Aside from these specific new developments, overall the user interface for Google Search is looking cleaner and has been optimised to work more smoothly within mobile devices.

So we'd call that a pretty good birthday. To 15 years of successful searches... and many more!