Google Inc. is bringing its search engines abilities to retrieve related Web information, check spelling and translate languages to its Web browser tool bar.
The company on Wednesday released a beta test of the next version of the Google Toolbar, a software add-on to Microsoft Corp.s Internet Explorer browser first launched in 2000.
The newest tool bar adds the ability to turn information on Web pages into hyperlinks to related information, check spelling on Web-based forms and translate words from English to one of eight languages. Google, of Mountain View, Calif., derived the tool bar additions from existing features on Googles popular Web search site, said Marissa Mayer, Googles director of consumer Web products.
"[The release] really brings the power of those tools to the tool bar," Mayer said. "They all really drive to increase productivity and reduce cutting and pasting."
Still missing in the Google Toolbar is support for Mozilla Firefox and other Web-browser alternatives to IE, and support for non-Windows operating systems. Mayer said Google is considering support for Firefox but had no specific plans to announce.
"Its something that wed like to do, but we have a large, strong base in the existing tool-bar community," Mayer said.
Googles competitors have begun boosting their support of Firefox. Yahoo Inc. last week released a beta version of its tool bar for Firefox. Ask Jeeves Inc. also recently began discussions with the open-source Mozilla Foundation about creating an Ask Jeeves-branded version of Firefox.
A new button on the tool bar called "AutoLink" lets users insert hyperlinks into a Web page on their browser. The feature specifically adds links to addresses, package tracking numbers, publication ISBNs and vehicle identification numbers known as VINs.
The address links point to Google Maps, where users can view the location on Googles recently launched mapping service. The other links point to non-Google sites—package tracking to UPS Inc. or FedEx Corp., ISBNs to Amazon.com Inc. and VINS to CarFax Inc., Mayer said.
The spell-checker uses the same technology as the spelling suggestions that appear during a Google Web search and works on standard Web forms and applications.
For word translation, the tool bar supports translating between English and one of eight other languages. By hovering over a word with their mouse, users can view the translation. The languages supported include French, Italian, German, Spanish, two forms of Chinese, Japanese and Korean, according to Google.
The beta release of the new tool bar is available as a free download. Existing Google Toolbar users will not receive an automatic update to the new version until it moves out of beta, which should occur in about two months, Mayer said.
In other search news, Yahoo Wednesday announced that it had expanded its mobile search features. Users now can send driving directions from Yahoo Maps to their mobile phones using the same feature Yahoo had introduced last month for sending business addresses and contact information from local results to mobile devices.
The Sunnyvale, Calif., company said it added the "Send to Phone" option within its Web driving directions.