Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) launched its annual I/O Conference Wednesday in California, and the company has been busy talking about and announcing several new features and plans for the near future. The one that is generating a lot of headlines right now is the Google Music All Access subscription music-streaming service that seems to be a direct competitor to Pandora, Slacker and Spotify. But with the hoopla around Google expanding its business into more and more segments of the digital marketplace, what is being somewhat underreported has been the changes that Google is announcing to its bread-and-butter service.
Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) got where it is because of search, as its search engine has become not just a service but a verb. Another part of the early session of Google I/O Wednesday was a presentation about the dramatic changes that are coming to Google Search over the next several weeks. Google engineers have been working to upgrade its search capability, and the company announced that it has changed the algorithms to not only include keywords like always, but to now have natural-speech functionality, including contextual understanding, in order to make search more intuitive – as Google may put it, as if you were asking your friend a question.
Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) calls this new functionality “answer, converse and anticipate,” and certain aspects of the new system are appearing already in Google Now and Google Knowledge Graph. Here we’ll give a quick breakdown of the three aspects of this new search algorithm.
Answer: this is what is offered currently by Knowledge Graph, according to Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG). This replaces keywords with naturally formed questions like “What books were written by Dick Francis?” and “When does Anchorman 2 come out?” This can also bring forward some statistics to search as follow-up information – like if you ask about the population of a country or city, the Answer functionality will provide some similar information for other countries or cities in a sidebar.
Converse: This is considered contextual search, where pronouns can be used in follow-up questions to an initial search query. This uses natural speech and can be used with any enabled device using the Chrome web browser and the words, “Ok, Google” to prompt. For example, a question like “where is the nearest Italian restaurant?” can be followed by “How late is it open?” and “What is the phone number?” and the search can use context as well as memory to provide the information. Context and memory are currently not a part of Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) Now or most search opportunities.
Anticipate: This feature looks at things in the future and attempts to present the right information for the right time.