Google's Inside Search event wrapped less than a week ago, but folks are already finding new stuff the search engine is testing.
That includes a new user interface for search results pages in Google.com, as well as a new trademark for Photovine, which may ultimately include facial recognition software down the road. Ho-hum, just the latest nod to Facebook, right?
Let's discuss the search UI first. My peers at Google Operating System and The Next Web have noted the new UI, which cans the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button, adds a new color scheme and moves Website links underneath the title.
PC Mag analyst David Pierce tweeted the following screenshot:
Note the Google Voice Search for the desktop feature enabled, too. Google Operating System also saw the gray/red icons and labels in the vertical navigation menu:
Anyone else seeing these changes? More interesting to me is what Fusible found. Google applied for a trademark on Photovine this month with the United States Patent and Trademark Office and gained it via a change of ownership June 14.
The trademark describes: "Communication services, namely, transmission of visual images and data by telecommunications networks, wireless communication networks, the Internet, information services networks and data networks."
That's clue enough, but two other descriptors further color the tale: "Non-downloadable computer software" and "On-line social networking services."
Google has owned Picasa for years, but that's an online photo storage service. Photovine is clearly a social photo-sharing service, a la Facebook's great photos app, and perhaps represents an alternative to Apple's new iCloud Photostream feature.
Thickening the plot is this post, another from Google Operating System, which alludes to facial recognition software in Google's code.
Specifically, it appears Google Profiles will add an option that will allow Google to recognize users' faces in other people's photos, as GOS noted:
"Picasa Web's name tags can become global: a new section from your profile titled "photos of you" will list the photos from other people where you are tagged. Google provides an approval mechanism, so you can reject some of the photos. "When a tag is approved, it is linked to your profile, and the photo is added to the 'Photos of you' section.""
There's also a camera sync feature that could automatically upload photos from the camera album of a mobile phone or tablet.
That would certainly rival Facebook's new facial recognition feature, tag suggestions. The questions we must ask: will this be part of Photovine or simply Picasa? Does Picasa become Photovine as part of the ongoing socialization of Google's Web services?
Assuming the answers to both questions are yes and yes, the follow I have is this: How will Google introduce facial recognition feature given what Facebook is going through with EPIC and politicians?
Facebook is getting killed over this, so Google had better be smarter about any Photovine launch with facial recognition.
But I would certainly welcome a photo-sharing alternative to Facebook... one that does not lock in all of my photos in the walled garden.