Users of Google’s app for Android and iOS devices can now ask more complex, natural language questions when using voice search.
The company says it has figured out a way to break down queries so that that the Google App voice search tool can understand the semantics of each component to better comprehend the true intent behind a specific question.
“Now we’re “growing up” just a little more,” said Google product manager Satyajeet Salgar in a blog post Monday. “The Google app is starting to truly understand the meaning of what you’re asking,”
According to Salgar, Google app can now handle questions that it wasn’t able to handle earlier. For example, Google app can now understand superlatives and ordered items in a query. A user could query Google app for the “tallest” player on a particular basketball team, the “largest” state in a country or the largest cities in a specific state, and get answers to that query.
Similarly, Google app is currently able to better understand questions with specific dates in them, Salgar said. Users can ask questions things like what was the population in Singapore in 1965 or what songs Taylor Swift recorded in 2014.
Importantly, Google app can now understand what Salgar described as “complex combinations” in a search query. For example, a user could ask what the U.S. population was like when Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders was born, or who the U.S. president was when Major League Baseball’s California Angels won the World Series.
“We’re still growing and learning, which means we make mistakes,” Salgar conceded. “But the next time you’re curious about something, ask the Google app and know that we’re working hard on understanding your questions better so that we can find the answer to whatever you’re looking for.”
Google apps’ latest capabilities are part of an evolving effort by the company to enable individuals to use natural language to search for information and to interact in other ways with Google’s online services.
Google’s enhanced voice search capabilities leverage the company’s Knowledge Graph database technology introduced in 2012. Google uses Knowledge Graph to enhance search results when users search for specific items. It’s a technology that is designed to let Google search for specific objects based not just on keywords but also on the relationships that might exist between them.
Currently, Google presents information from the Knowledge Graph as a separate panel in search results. The updates to Google app allows Google to sift through the data in Knowledge Graph and find facts that contribute to a useful answer.
According to Salgar, Google app is now able to harness the information in the Knowledge Graph to answer questions that people might ask, using natural language syntax. “We can build on this base to answer harder questions,” Salgar said.