Google Real Time Search

December 8, 2009 by  

google_logoGoogle Real Time Search:MOUNTAIN VIEW, California — Google said Monday it will begin indexing much of the web in real time, and marry those results with its relevance-ranking technology to make sense of the torrents of information being published via Twitter, Facebook and blogs.

The announcement, at a news conference at the Computer History Museum here, signals an aggressive push by Google to maintain its mantle as search-innovation leader amid unaccustomed pressure from rivals. Microsoft effectively beat Google to the real-time punch, announcing Facebook and Twitter partnerships for its Bing search engine at the Web 2.0 Summit in October.

“Google Real Time search is Google’s relevance technology meeting the real-time web,” said Google Fellow Amit Singhal. “There is so much information being generated that relevance is the key to any product, and that’s where Google comes in.”

Monday’s announcement aims to address a major perceived shortcoming in Google’s technology, which has drawn criticism lately for not keeping up with the flood of short status updates on social networks, which some see as creating a new information revolution defined by instantaneous, or “real time,” distribution of information.

Google’s results page will now include a scrolling box of links that update constantly even as you scan through the other results. Clicking through takes one to a page of real-time scrolling updates. This feature is now available on iPhones and Android, Singhal said. The update will be rolled out progressively over the next two days. If you don’t see it yet in your search results, you can try it here.

In addition to including Facebook and Twitter in its stream, Google said it’s the first search company to partner with MySpace for real-time search.

Google said its real-time search offers not just a stream of data, but an organized stream filtered of spam and other irrelevant information. The key to keeping the updates relevant is that Google judges “author quality,” “probability of relevance” and “query hotness,” according to Singhal. “That’s what real-time search is all about,” he said.

In what seemed an almost-defensive move in light of recent press given to Bing and Yahoo search, Google’s VP for search Marissa Mayer started the event by telling reporters that Google is constantly innovating, and that it launched “33 different search innovations in 67 days,” a list that ranged from Google’s cool new music search to holiday logos.

Microsoft’s Bing and Yahoo’s search team have been pushing the idea for more than a year that search is more than just about the best links, and that what people really want are answers, not links. That’s a none-too-subtle dig at Google’s paradigm-changing search innovation — PageRank — that actually made links useful.

Google, which still commands 70 percent of the U.S. search market, has been slow to change its simple interface, but Mayer made it clear Monday that Google understands that there are many ways to return information to searchers, including answers that are personalized — a nod to a little-noticed announcement last Friday that Google would personalize all results, using cookies in a browser — even for those who don’t have Google accounts.

“Our search results have to mirror the [internet’s] richness,” Mayer said. “It’s not just about 10 blue links. It’s about the best answers.

“We don’t know what search will look like 30 years from now, but what we do know is that they will be more personalized,” Mayer said.

Mayer was followed on stage by Vic Gundotra who quickly demoed how good Google’s search by voice on mobile phones has gotten. He spoke, “Pictures of Barack Obama with the French president at the G8 summit,” into his phone, which then returned exactly those results in seconds. Gundotra then demoed how voice works in Mandarin, and announced that it would now work with Japanese as well.

Gundotra said the future of search on phones involves search using microphones as the ears, the camera as eyes, the GPS chip as the location, and the speaker as a voice.

Gundotra also showed off a demo of an automatic translator that lets you speak English into your phone and then have it translated into Spanish which is then spoken. For instance, Gundotra said, “My name is Dick. Please show me to the nearest hospital.” In seconds a woman’s voice said this in perfect Spanish. The app is expected to be released in 2010 in many languages, Gundotra said.

Google also showed off customized Google Suggest that uses location. For instance, starting a query “RE” in Boston suggest the Red Sox, while the same start of query in San Francisco suggests the outdoor store REI, one of the city’s most popular retailers.

Google Local has a button called “Near Me Now” right now that lets you see the surrounding local businesses — and their online ratings. That same feature is now available in a new version of Google Maps for Android, which sends your latitude and longitude from your phone to Google and returns a list of what’s nearby and good.

Finally, Google Goggles lets you take a picture using your phone and send it to your phone, which scans it for text and searches for it. It can also take a picture of a famous landmark such as the Itsukushima Shrine and actually tell you what it is, and show you pages about it. You can try this out by dipping into Google Labs, if you have an Android phone.

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