August 18, 2012
Gmail Search Field Trial
"Get early access to Gmail in personal search results by joining this field trial. Once you've joined, you'll be able to find relevant email and information from Gmail when you search on Google."
You know me, I'll try anything.
I signed up one day last week and the next day I was in.
When Google imagines the future of Web search, it sees a search engine that understands human meaning and not just words, that can have a spoken conversation with computer users and that gives users results not just from the Web but also from their personal lives.
On Wednesday, Google showed a few steps it has taken toward making that all-knowing search engine a reality. The new tools, like voice search that seems to outdo Apple's Siri, make Google more useful. But some, like one that incorporates personal Gmail messages in search results, could also unnerve privacy-concerned users.
The Gmail tool, which Google is still testing with a limited number of users, shows results from Gmail if a user is signed in to his or her Google account. Search for Amazon, for instance, and in addition to links to the shopping Web site and information about the river, you could see the receipt from your recent Amazon.com order. Search "my flights" and Google will cull information about your forthcoming flight from your Gmail messages. Search for baby shower games and Google might show you a relevant but forgotten e-mail chain from last year between you and a friend.
Google says it wants to be able to see in your Gmail inbox that you have a reservation at a restaurant an hour away and alert you that the traffic is bad so you need to leave early, an extension of Google Now, which the company introduced in June. It also plans eventually to include personal information from other Google services like Docs and Drive.
Google is aware that the new tool could raise privacy concerns, a problem it has faced in the past.... That is why the company is first offering it to a million users who sign up at g.co/searchtrial. It also emphasized that users can turn it off by moving a toggle at the top of the search results page or signing out of Gmail, and that all searches are encrypted.
Google also showed off voice search that seems to go far beyond what Apple's Siri can do. These tools came to Android phones in June, and Google said it had submitted an app to Apple's iTunes store that should be available in the next few days. In a demonstration, a Google executive verbally asked Google questions about the weather and maps, but also for more obscure information like a baseball player's salary, a video on quantum physics and his personal flight information, and each time the search engine responded with the answer in a friendly voice.
Google also gave some astonishing statistics. There are 30 trillion URLs on the Web, and Google crawls 20 billion Web pages a day and does 100 billion searches a month.
August 18, 2012 at 12:01 PM | Permalink
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