Google has been testing a new feature that provides instant results for whatever the user types in the search box.
Search-engine optimization consultant Rob Ousbey has been widely credited with spying the Google test first. Ousbey posted a video on his blog, showing Google's search results shifting dynamically on the page as he types terms such as "strawberry," "cheesecake," "recipe," "pictures," "video."
Google confirmed the authenticity of the video to TechCrunch, with a Google spokesperson apparently telling the blog: "At any given time we are running between 50-200 search experiments."
If codified as a regular feature, this "instant search" would likely reduce the time needed to hunt down information; however, a slow broadband connection could easily hobble its usefulness.
Google's search-feature testing, along with a recent spate of acquisitions, suggests the company is aggressively exploring ways to maintain its dominance in the search-engine arena.
On Aug. 20, Google announced its acquisition of Like.com, a visual search engine. While financial terms went undisclosed by Google, TechCrunch suggested the deal is worth in the neighborhood of $100 million. A Google spokesperson told eWEEK: "We're pleased and excited to welcome Like.com to Google, where they'll work closely with our commerce team."
Like.com focuses on "soft goods" such as clothes and apparel. "We've developed technology," reads a note on the company's Website, "that lets us understand visually what terms like -red high-heeled pumps' and -floral patterned sleeveless dress' mean and created algorithms to understand whether those pumps complement or clash with that dress."
Like.com becomes yet another piece in Google's growing visual-search portfolio, following the April acquisition of visual art search engine Plink and the launch earlier this year of Google Goggles.
In addition to traditional search, Google finds itself locked in a fierce, multi-competitor battle over smartphones. The company's Android operating system has proven a robust seller, shipping in approximately 200,000 smartphones per day. A number of analysis firms have suggested that Android-based smartphone outsold the Apple iPhone in the second quarter, doubtlessly intensifying the animosity between the two companies.
Google's other opponents seem no less determined to take their pound of flesh. On Aug. 12, Oracle filed a lawsuit alleging Google's infringement on seven patents and other copyrights related to Java, which powers Android's application framework and other components. "Google actively distributes Android (including without limitation the Dalvik VM and the Android software development kit) and promotes its use by manufacturers of products and applications," reads a key line in the suit.
Unsurprisingly, Google has vowed to "strongly defend" itself against Oracle's suit.