Google Unveils Instant Pages, More

Yesterday, Google held a media event in San Francisco. In addition to discussing our continuous quest for knowledge, the company unveiled a number of new features, such as Google Instant Pages, and expanded the availability of others from mobile devices to the desktop.

The company noted that, if you examine the peak periods of the day for mobile and desktop search, they’re almost mirror images of each other. We search at our desktops throughout the work day, with a dip at lunchtime. On mobile devices, on the other hand, relatively little search happens throughout the work day, but there’s a rise around lunchtime, and another one after normal working hours.

With this data, it’s not surprising that Google created some features specifically for mobile search – and now they’re expanding them to the desktop. The first of these is Google Voice Search. If you haven’t used it yet, it makes search go that much more quickly on a smartphone. Instead of typing your query into the device’s tiny screen with minuscule keys, you can speak your search term – which makes perfect sense, since cell phones were designed to transmit sound.

If you use Google’s Chrome browser on your desktop, you’ll be pleased to learn that you can also use Google Voice Search within it. You’ll start seeing a microphone in every Google search box. Just click on the microphone, and if your computer includes a built-in or attached microphone, you can speak your search term or phrase right into the computer. You can even do specialty searches, like “pictures of the yellow bellied warbler” or “weather for Schenectady, New York.” Currently, only English is supported.

Another feature that’s coming to the desktop was called Google Goggles in the mobile version. It will be known as Search by Image on the desktop. The mobile version let you perform a search by taking a picture of an object with your mobile device’s camera. With Search by Image, you can go to images.google.com and click the camera icon in the text box to use one of your own images or the URL of an image on the web as the jumping-off point for your search. It’s rolling out globally in 40 languages; Google is also releasing Chrome and Firefox extensions that will let you search with any image on the web simply by right-clicking it.

The big news, though, is Google Instant Pages. The search company describes this as the next logical step after Google Instant. That feature gives you search results as you type, which the company claims saves users an average of two to five seconds per search. “But once you’ve picked a result, you click, and then wait  again for the page to load – for an average of about five seconds,” Google notes.

Google Instant Pages is the search engine’s attempt to give searchers those seconds back. It gets the top search result ready in the background while users choose which link to click. “The good news is that we’ve been working for years to develop our relevance technology, and we can fairly accurately predict when to prerender,” the company said. The bad news is, Instant Pages is available only on the next beta release of Chrome; it’s also available on the developer version, for brave searchers. 

You can check out Google’s blog post covering the event.  

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