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Google search goes real-time
Registered Member #186
Joined: Sun Jul 23 2006, 12:16pm
|News item posted
Google has moved to head off some of the threat from young rivals such as Twitter and Facebook by announcing plans to prominently display results from social networking sites in its search pages.
The new development, which the Californian technology giant dubs "real-time search", aims to bring users more up-to-date information as they scour the web for information. Over the next few days, anybody searching online using Google will see their traditional search results augmented by a string of constantly updating messages drawn from social networks, news sites and blogs.
The move is part of a wider push to make Google's search index even faster and more up to date, as people increasingly use services like Twitter to transmit information about events as they happen.
Google executive Amit Singhal said that with more information being put on the web every day, it was vital that the company learned how to give users the most relevant results - and as quickly as possible.
"Information is being posted at a pace I have never seen before," he said. "In this information environment, seconds matter."
As well as watching for developments on news sites, Google is working closely with Twitter, Facebook and MySpace to include updates from their users - and Singhal said he would not rule out any potential source of up-to-the-second information in the future.
Though executives were keen to use the launch event - which was held near the company's headquarters in Mountain View, California - as a display of power, it was also intended to quieten growing speculation that an inability to conduct real time searches could become Google's achilles heel.
Some critics have posited that websites like Facebook and Twitter could eventually rival Google, thanks to their ability to tap into millions of public messages being sent constantly between individuals. That threat comes in addition to more traditional search engines like Microsoft's Bing.com have threatened to forge exclusive deals with some content providers as a way to claw back market share.
Instead, Google has acted to bring those services into the fold, though it would neither confirm nor deny whether there was a financial relationship behinds its links with social networking sites. Not everybody thinks the move was make or break for Google, however, even if it gives users more timely information.
"There's no doubt that it's good to have," said Danny Sullivan, a prominent observer of Google's activities, writing on his SearchEngineLand website. "It's incredibly difficult to be a leading information source and yet when there's an earthquake, people are instead turning to Twitter for confirmation faster than traditional news sources on Google can provide."
The company also used the event to unveil a number of other advances it said were significant technological advances.
These included an experimental program called Google Goggles that allows users to take a photograph of an object or product and ask Google what it is, getting a selection of information back just as if they had conducted a web search on the item in question.
Vic Gundotra, the company's vice-president of engineering, said there were already more than a billion items stored in the company's systems and that there were fierce ambitions to make this technology - which has eluded experts for generations - as widely available as possible.
"Today marks the beginning of this journey," he said. "It's our goal to be able to visually identify any image."
Gundotra also showcased a forthcoming translation product which allows users to speak any phrase into a mobile phone and then translate it, almost instantly, into any one of a number of languages. The resulting phrase could then be spoken back by Google through the phone's speaker, potentially allowing travellers to use any high-end handset as a universal translation device. The first elements of the software should be available to the public in the first quarter of 2010.
The company said such technologies were possible thanks to improvements in speed and power, but added that there were more plans coming soon - and that the ultimate goal was to make searching for information as fast as physically possible.
"It takes one 10th of a second for light to travel around the world," said Singhal. "At Google we will only be satisfied until that is the only barrier between you and information."
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