Google Refines Image Search, Revises Google Labs

Google introduces a number of new features such as Similar Images, a graphical Google News Timeline and some tweaks to the Google Labs Web site. The search engine giant has continued to roll out new products and features as part of its core offerings in a bid to retain users and make certain features, such as Gmail, more robust applications for the enterprise.

Google announced two new Google Labs features on its blog April 20: Similar Images and the Google News Timeline.

Google's Similar Images site can be found here. When a query is typed in a search bar, Google feeds the user a variety of images associated with the term. For example, typing in the term "jaguar" will produce images of both the jungle cat and the luxury vehicle.

Click on the "Similar Images" link beneath one of the images of a Jaguar car, and the user will receive images of similar vehicles-other models of Jaguars, or similar sports cars.

The tool theoretically allows researchers to refine a query, search quickly for more useful images or else find images of objects they don't quite know the word for.

"Using visual similarity, you don't have to refine the text of your search; instead, you can just click on the link of an image you like," said the Google corporate blog post.

In addition to Similar Images, Google announced Google News Timeline, which will organize Google News information chronologically along a "zoomable" graphical timeline. This timeline integrates a number of different sources, including new and archived news, blog posts, and media such as music and movies.

Google Labs now has a new address, an RSS feed and an "iGoogle gadget" designed to provide up-to-date news. The company said it intends to have more features engineers commenting on the site about Google products.

Google has rolled out a number of granular innovations to its various applications over the past few months. On March 30, the Google announced that Gmail Labs would be available in 49 languages. Launched in June 2008, Labs allows users to enable a number of experimental features for Gmail, including YouTube previews.

Other new features have included offline Gmail and Google Calendar access, designed to make the application more robust in competition with e-mail offerings from Microsoft, Yahoo Zimbra and others. In addition, Gmail now comes with an integrated "unsend" feature that allows users 5 seconds to repeal a message, similar to Microsoft Outlook's "Recall" button.

However, Google's attempts to deepen its offerings are not always greeted with fanfare. The company's attempts to expand Google Street View, a feature of Google Maps that allows users to see a particular location from the ground, has met resistance from residents not anxious to have their environs displayed for the world to see. For example, on April 1, a group of English villagers formed a human chain to turn back a car shooting images for Street View.