Cloud Computing: Google Speeds Up Search with Instant Pages, Instant Images, Voice Search

 
 
By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2011-06-14
 
 
 

Amit Singhal

Singhal said that mobile search traffic growth over the past three years is comparable to Google desktop search traffic growth over the same duration earlier in the company's history.

Amit Singhal

Inside Search

Scott Huffman, engineering director for Google search, prepares to start the news torrent. Huffman noted that mobile searches have gotten more complex, pushing Google to serve relevant results without sacrificing speed.

Inside Search

Google Mobile Places

Google has added shortcut icons to the bottom of the refreshed mobile homepage. The Map on top has location markers for places nearby. Even better, when a user scrolls through the results, the map remains at the top of the page and adjusts on the fly to the listing a user is looking at. Huffman showed how to look up local restaurants and see how close he was to each restaurant result, with the map changing in context based on how close each restaurant was to him.

Google Mobile Places

Query Building

Another mobile perk is a query builder that Google has already employed in its Google Search app for Android and Apple iOS devices. Basically, when a user types in a search, he or she can add suggested words or phrases by tapping the plus sign next to results to build out queries piece by piece. Now it's available via www.google.com from the mobile browser.

Query Building

Google Tablet Search

Google has also improved its tablet search and image search user interfaces, which will be debuting in the coming weeks. Results and tap targets are bigger, said Huffman. The image search boasts an infinite scroll feature.

Google Tablet Search

Google Goggles Translates to Russian

Google Goggles now translates from English to Russian!

Google Goggles Translates to Russian

Google Mobile Speech

Google has watched its mobile speech queries grow exponentially. Google Speech Tech manager Mike Cohen said he and his team have logged 230 billion words to help Google's English Voice Search system recognize common phrases. Voice Search traffic has grown six-fold.

Google Mobile Speech

Google Voice Search—Now on the Desktop

Cohen shows how Google has added speech recognition into search on the desktop for users of Google's Chrome Web browser. Those using Chrome will soon start to see a little microphone in every Google search box.

Google Voice Search—Now on the Desktop

Voice Search

Users can click on the microphone and speak their search. This works equally well for simple and complex searches, such as searching for Bolognese sauce.

Voice Search

Voice Search Translation

Users may also make their query in English and get it translated to Spanish. Voice Search on the desktop leverages Chrome's Speech API and will be available to everyone using Chrome 11 and later versions in English after it has rolled out over the next week.

Voice Search Translation

Search by Image

This feature can be a blockbuster. Next to the microphone on images.google.com, users will also see a camera icon. By clicking the camera, a user can upload any picture or plug in an image URL from the Web and ask Google to figure out what it is, which can help a user also find out where a photo was taken if they dredged up an old photo whose provenance no one remembers.

Search by Image

Image Search Redux

Image search is rolling out in 40 languages. Users may also search photos by dragging and dropping pictures from web pages or their computer into the search box. Google is also launching Chrome and Firefox extensions that will let users search any image online by right-clicking with their mouse.

Image Search Redux

Instant Pages

Google Instant stunned the search world last September and wowed users accessing it via mobile devices by paring search per query times by an average of 5 seconds. However, sometimes pages still take too long to load, so Google has added a new feature called Instant Pages that prepares the top search in the background while a user chooses which link to click. This saves users another two to five seconds on typical searches. This is done via "prerendering" technology in Chrome. In this side-by-side comparison above, Google shows an Instant search page without prerendering on the left and one with it on the right. Note that the page one the left has not finished loading (see blank masthead space) while the Instant Pages example on the left loaded in the blink of an eye. To use Instant Pages, users will want to try Google's next beta release of Chrome, version 13. The feature will be available to all Chrome users later this summer.

Instant Pages

Instant Images

Google has also applied Instant to its Image search results, called Google Instant with Images. Here Google Images with Instant will be available over the next couple of months to all domains and languages where Instant is already offered. Users may also opt in to try it sooner here.

Instant Images

Meet the Team

Heres a look at the team that worked to bring the myriad new search features to fruition.

Meet the Team

Rocket Fuel