16 May 2007

Google Searchology: The Future of Search

At the “Searchology” press conference that was just held by Google, Marissa Mayer made several important announcements regarding the future of search at Google.

First of all, Google are updating their infrastructure and algorithms to integrate all their different search engines into one single Universal Search experience. To start with, this will include results from Book Search, Blog Search, Image Search, Local, News and Video.

Using the video example, we saw an interface that seemed to be an extension of their PlusBox feature, showing how they plan to embed videos directly in the search engine results page, just as Ionut Alex. Chitu spotted earlier today. According to Marissa, this is currently only live on some data centers at the moment but should be rolled out to all data centers tomorrow.

In their second announcement, Marissa confirmed that Google will be adding the Contextual Navigation Links which we’ve already seen recently in interface prototypes, like the Maps link in this example:

Continuing on their “interfaces and navigation” theme, next to be announced was the Universal Navigation Bar which we’ve also seen being tested recently:

Marissa explained that this bar will show its “nearest neighbors” – meaning that when you’re on different pages, you’ll see different links. For example, if you’re on a search engine results page, you’ll see links to Images and News, as you’re likely to want links to other search results, but if you’re using Gmail you’ll see links to Calendar and Documents instead. Personally, I’d like to see consistency across all pages – and even be able to choose my own links.

Both these navigational features should be available later today.

Next, Marissa unveiled a new service whereby users will be able to add experimental features to their search results – such as timeline and map views, keyboard shortcuts, left-hand search navigation and right-hand contextual search navigation – and actively give feedback to Google about your experiences.

Part of Google Labs, the Google Experimental home page is now available at although sign-ups won’t be live until next week. If nothing else, it’s good to see that we’ll finally know what to call these experimental features and interface tests!

Another announcement that could easily have gone unnoticed was that Google will soon be launching a way to search in one language and receive results from foreign language websites translated on the fly.

Cross Language Information Retrieval, as Google are calling it, will initially be launched in just 12 languages. By using their statistical machine translation technology, Google will apparently translate your search query into other languages and then search websites written in other languages using your translated query.

For more information, read Google’s official press release: Google Begins Move to Universal Search

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