Google today announced a number of improvements to its core search engine, with a strong focus on how the company uses AI to help its users. This includes the ability to better answer questions with very specific answers, very comprehensive questions, and a new algorithm to better handle the typos in your queries. The company also announced updates to Google Lens and other search tools.
Most of these are meant to be useful, but some are also just for fun. You can now hum a song and, for example, the Google Assistant will try to find the right song for you.
As Google found, 1 in 10 searches is misspelled. The company is already doing a pretty good job of dealing with these through its “did you mean” feature. Now the company is introducing an improvement on this algorithm, which uses a deep neural network with 680 million parameters to better understand the context of your search query.
Another useful new function is the integration into the search of various data sources that were previously only available as part of Google’s Open Data Commons. If you now ask questions about “Employment in Chicago”, the Google Knowledge Graph will trigger and display charts with this data right on the search results page.
Another update the company announced today to its side panel indexing system feature to address niche questions like “How do I determine if my windows have UV glass?” Better to answer. The system can now refer you directly to a paragraph in a DIY forum. Overall, this new system will improve about 7% of queries, Google said.
For broader questions, Google is now also using its AI system to better understand the nuances of a page and better answer those questions.
Nowadays, a lot of content can also be found in videos. Google is now using advanced computer recognition and speech recognition to mark key moments in videos. This can already be found in the search. However, this new algorithm should make this even easier, especially with videos where the creators have not already tagged the content.
Other updates include an update for Google Lens that allows you to ask the app to read a passage from a photo in a book – regardless of the language. Lens can now understand math formulas too – then show you step-by-step instructions and videos to solve the problem. This works not only for math, but chemistry, biology, and physics as well.
With the Christmas shopping season approaching, it may come as no surprise that Google has released a number of updates to its shopping services as well. In particular, the company is launching a new feature in Chrome and the Google app that now lets you tap an image and then find related products. And for fashion enthusiasts, the service also shows related items shown in related images.
Now when you buy a car you can also get an AR view of them so you can see what they look like in your driveway.
You can now also point to a restaurant or other local business in Google Maps if, for example, you use the AR walking instructions to show their opening times.
Another new feature of Maps is that Google now also shows live busyness information right on the map, so you don’t have to specifically search for a location to see how busy it is right now. This is a useful feature in 2020.
During the event (or really the video premiere, since this is 2020), which was tuned for the most calming music, Google’s search director Prabhakar Raghavan also noted that the 2019 BERT update includes the portion of his search for understanding natural language the system is now going to used for almost every query and is available in multiple languages including Spanish, Portuguese, Hindi, Arabic, German, and Amharic. This is part of the 3,600+ updates the company made to its search product in 2019.
All of these announcements come against the backdrop of various governments dealing with Google’s business practices. It is therefore probably not surprising that the event also focused on Google’s data protection practices and that Raghavan regularly spoke about “Open Access” and that Google search is free for everyone, everywhere, with ranking guidelines that apply to all websites ” fair ”. I am sure of Yelp and other Google competitors would disagree with this last claim.