Earlier this week, Google announced some new features to enhance its already ubiquitous search service. Users will soon be able to search by speech, by image, and can take advantage of a new service called Instant Pages which aims to deliver pages faster than ever before.
While Google is already working to make the Internet faster with its fiber optic pilot program, Instant Pages could speed up your browsing experience without a fancy new connection. When engaged, users will have the top results from a Google search pre-load in the background. That way, the page appears to load instantly once you click on it. Obviously it’s not actually faster, since the loading is just hidden from the user, but the psychological gain of having a page appear without waiting is quite large.
The most exciting facets of Google’s announcement relate to new ways of searching.
First, Google will be adding the ability to search by speech. Just click the button, speak your search, and Google does the rest. On the Google Blog, the company says this could be useful for more “conversational” searches, and when you’re unsure on how to spell something. It also has some pretty clear advantages for people who, for whatever reason, have difficulty typing or using a computer.
This inclusion of speech searching also mirrors the functionality of Google’s mobile platform, which echoes a trend seen across computing in general.
The cleverest new addition to Google’s searching power is the ability to search by image. When simply typing or speaking your query are inadequate, you can drag and drop an image into the Google search field. This could include pictures from a website, or directly from your hard drive. Using the same technology under the hood of Google Goggles, search by image can find similar images but can, in some cases, identify the image itself. The identification system currently works best for animals, architecture, and art, but that alone is pretty impressive.
While these are very cool features, there are some major caveats. Instant Pages will be Chrome-only, and is currently available in the browser’s dev build, and the speech-search will only be available in the forthcoming version of Chrome. The ability to search by images will be available soon, and sounds like it will be an integral part of Google’s search page functionality. Until then, we’ll all just have to twiddle our thumbs.
In the meantime, Google has trotted out three videos showing off the new search features.