Google launches wave of new products

09 December 2009

MOUNTAIN VIEW, California: Google has launched a variety of new tools that will further develop its core online search operations, as well as strengthening both its real-time and mobile capabilities.

In a showcase event held earlier this week, the Mountain View-based firm unveiled a system enabling it to filter real-time listings into its search results, without users having to refresh their browsers.

Sources for this data will include Twitter – which has struck a similar deal with Microsoft – as well as Facebook and MySpace, which will make "public" information on their pages available to Google.

In a similar fashion to Twitter, the owner of YouTube and AdMob will also now provide a list of "trending topics" – namely, the subjects which are receiving the highest levels of "buzz" at any given time.

Harry McCracken, editor of the Technologist, said "the big challenge isn't pulling in the information from across the web quickly – it's sorting through it and putting the good stuff at the top."

"In a way, this is similar to the challenge that Google tackled when it was founded … Google nailed relevance back then, so they have as good a short as anyone at addressing it with real-time search."

Further new services include Google Goggles, where people can take a picture of a product, book or other similar item with their phone, and access information about it without entering a search term.

The web pioneer stated that this platform – which is only accessible on wireless devices using its Android operating software – would effectively mean consumers can "search with their eyes."

Vic Gundotra, vp of engineering at Google, said the overall goal of this initiative was to "visually identify any image over time", although he warned "we are really at the beginning of the beginning."

In another effort to diversify its offerings, Google has established a voice-operated search facility accessible via mobile handsets, and which is available in English, Japanese and Mandarin.

This could allow users to find their nearest restaurant, for example, as well as view its address, and a map of how to get there.

In-keeping with this trend, a "Near Me Now" feature will be added to its online and mobile portals, providing visitors with details about stores and other possible places of interest in their vicinity.

Moreover, the company plans to make all of its responses more targeted with regard to where individuals are based, whatever medium they are using.

Gundotra said someone in San Francisco typing “RE” on its homepage would be presented with a suggestion of REI, a local sports retailer, while in Boston the words "Red Sox" would appear.

He added that four in every ten mobile enquiries currently take the form of a term which Google has generated in response to the first few characters entered by users.

Recently, Google also introduced a mobile coupon option to its Local Business Center property, meaning consumers can download vouchers straight to their phones, and use them in stores.

These "QR Codes" are effectively barcodes that can be scanned at check-outs, and have been backed by in-store marketing in 9,000 towns across the US, as well as by 40,000 free iPhone apps.
Mike Borland, of the Kelsey Group, wrote on a company blog that "the location relevance of mobile searches is clearly top of mind for Google."

"They've told us, in fact, that local searches index two to three times higher (as a percentage of overall searches) on mobile than PC. With this comes even greater relevance for local information."

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal/AdAge; additional content by Warc staff