Gender issues aside, I love the idea behind this event because it’s not just a set of PR announcements, it’s a community coming together to create amazing new tech goodies for you and me. I also love that the official agenda includes a time slot for “Bike and Coat Check.” That makes me smile.
Anyway, let’s get down to business – search business with a look at some of the new things coming your way.
The main theme going forward is conversation. Google has tweaked their voice activated search engine so it not only responds to simple questions, it can actually respond in a conversational way.
“Google, how do I get there from here.”
Google responds with a map and directions and I wouldn’t be surprised if it told me where to get cheap gas along the way and the best place to stop for dinner.
Since we’re somewhat used to this concept, it doesn’t sound like a big deal, but think this through. In this example, Google has to understand that when you say “get there” there means the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. When you say “here” Google has to determine your current location using the locator in your phone. And it does all of this in a matter of seconds.
The feature will be included in the next iOS and Android updates but it’s also coming to a computer near you as long as you use Chrome as your browser. I tried Chrome long ago and gave it up in favor of Firefox but this might be enough to make me try it again. Mostly, voice search on a computer is a novelty (it’s not like I’m driving and can’t type) but with all the typing a do in a day, I appreciate any shortcuts.
Google has also put the work into their knowledge graph. They’ve made it more “intelligent” in a variety of languages including both simplified and traditional Chinese. They’ve also prompted the search fairies to give a more detailed response to a query. So instead of just getting the population of Australia when you ask, you also get comparison to other countries and graphs.
I’m also looking forward to trying the updated Google Now portion of the search app. They’ve added the ability to trigger reminders based on place. You go to the store to buy milk and it reminds you that you also need dog food. It can also nag you if you’re about to miss your train and let you know when a new book, movie or CD is about to be released so you can be there on the first day.
It’s all about relevant information given your location and situation. Nice.
Okay Google, where can I get a juicy hamburger? I’m starving.