At a press conference in San Francisco today, Google has introduced the world to its new image search redesign. The new Google Images — which hasn’t yet been widely rolled out as of this post, although it should manifest itself for all soon enough — boasts as its greatest improvement the so-called “infinite scroll,” which means that new images instantly load as users scroll down without the need for a page reload, allowing for as many as 1,000 images per page. Text no longer appears unless you click on an image on the scroll, in which case the image zooms and its metadata becomes visible.
As many have pointed out, the new Google images looks sorta like Bing,which popularized the infinite scroll well before Google and which has heretofore been widely regarded as having the better image search function of the two search engines. But the “Google is copying Bing!!!” interpretation of the new Google search, while it might make for a good horserace, is silly. First, Bing may have popularized the infinite wall, but it didn’t invent it; in fact, Google toyed with a similar concept when it ran the test site SearchMash, which it’s since abandoned. Moreover, Google’s infinite wall arguably does Bing one better, in that it automatically fits images together based on their aspect ratios to create “a cohesive page while you scroll” rather than stacking everything up in static columns.
In addition to improving image search simply because they are our munificent overlords, Google hopes to profit from the change with “Google Image Search Ads,” which will consist of an image and text in a different-colored box at the top of the page. Previously, only text ads appeared here. Will people searching for humorous captioned photographs of cats dump money on Google’s and advertisers’ laps by buying pet toys? Maybe not, although some types of searches (cars, computers) make more sense for image ads; surely some advertisers will find a way to make this work; for the rest of us, we’ll have our infinite walls to play with.
(pics via TechCrunch.)
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