Google Squared Gets More Squares, Relevance and Spreadsheet Export

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2009-10-10

Google Oct. 9 rolled out several improvements to its experimental Google Squared search service, including more facts; better relevance, sort and rank capabilities; and the ability to extract data to Google Spreadsheets.

Demoed at Google's May Searchology event and launched in June from Google Labs, Google Squared extracts facts from all over the Internet and presents them in a spreadsheet-type interface, bringing structure to normally unstructured data.

Typical Web search today from Google, Microsoft and Yahoo lets users enter a query and see links from multiple Websites that may or may not adequately answer the query.

If a query proves complex, users often have to click through multiple links to find satisfactory answers. What this kind of search doesn't do is adequately answer more complex research questions, for which the answers reside on multiple Websites instead of one.

That's the problem Google Squared, as well as Wolfram Alpha's search engine, seeks to address.

Rather than returning a list of Website links, Squared spits out a table of facts culled from the Web. When Squared launched in June, users would receive up to 30 fact squares. As of today, Squared now displays up to 120 facts per query. See this example of a Squared query for "U.S. presidents" here.

Users can also now sort columns, letting users rank, group and compare items, with Squared converting units in the background. For example, users can sort by tallest buildings in the United States or group restaurants by neighborhood. These are key parameters for boosting relevance.

Google also claims the quality of the info in the squares is improved because it is ranking based on relevance to queries and filtering out items and attributes from the initial square if it doesn't find enough accurate data. This is important, as early tests of Squared often returned some silly results. As before, as people alter their squares, Google Squared changes to reflect those improvements.

Finally, and this will be a big deal for users of Squared who also use Google Apps to create reports, users can now export data from Squared to a Google Spreadsheet or a CSV file. Google offers an example of how this works in a blog post on the Squared improvements here. Read more about the new Squared features on TechMeme here.

Meanwhile, Google's mobile search team, which already rolled out Search Options earlier this week, formally released the Quick Search Box (QSB) for smartphones based on Google's Android mobile operating system.

QSB provides one search box for users to search through their phone's native info and Web content. QSV searches the Android phones apps, contacts and browser history, as well as users' personalized search suggestions, local business listings and other info from the Web without making the user open their Web browser. See a video demo of and pics of QSB here.

English speakers may also search the Web or call colleagues by voice by tapping the microphone button next to the QSB search box. Microsoft enabled similar voice recognition capabilities earlier this week on the Sprint SPH-i350 Intrepid.

QSB is a key feature in Android 1.6, the new Donut build coming to up-and-coming smartphones, such as the Motorola Cliq, Sprint HTC Hero and likely the pending Verizon Wireless Android devices.


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