Google Search can hear you (better) now


Google Search got an operational tweak this week to improve the user experience on wireless devices. All the goodness of Google Now has been added directly into Google Search.

Search now pulls data from Google Calendar, Gmail and Google+ accounts to give users immediate information in five key areas. The new search features are a boon for business travelers who want details about flight times, hotel reservations, driving directions and daily meeting schedules just by asking a question or two. Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) Product Manager Roy Livne details the types of information you can now glean:

  • Flights: Ask Google "Is my flight on time?" to get info on your upcoming flights and live status on your current flights.
  • Reservations: Ask for "my reservations" to see your dining plans or "my hotel" to get your hotel name and address. With one tap, you can get driving or public transit directions straight there, saving you lots of steps.
  • Purchases: Ask for "my purchases," and you'll get the status of your current orders, so you know whether your mom's birthday present will arrive on time.
  • Plans: Ask Google "What are my plans for tomorrow?" to see a summary of upcoming flights, hotels, restaurant reservations and events--very useful when you're traveling.
  • Photos: Say "Show me my photos from Thailand" to see the photos you uploaded to Google+. You can also ask for "my photos of sunsets" if you want to show off the shots you've taken over the year; Google will try to automatically recognize the type of photo you're asking for.

It seems like the natural follow-up to the Google Now integration should be the addition of the contextual search tools it's been working on, but CNET's Seth Rosenblatt says that's not going to happen just yet. "While contextual search is available in Google Search, it won't work yet with the new query categories that pull information from your Google accounts. Google would not give a timeline for when it would be available, either."

The new search features are opt-out, which is sort of a head-scratcher given the recent backlash over Gmail privacy concerns. If you don't want Google collecting information about your search activity, log into your account and click on the search settings to turn it off.

For more:
- see the CNET article

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