Google adds real-time search on the Web, 'Goggles' on Android
Yesterday, Google announced two new search tools that further expand its capabilities into the realm of scariness or science fiction, depending on how you view the company. One allows a real-time glimpse into what people are talking about on the Web; the other lets users of Android phones identify things by taking pictures of them.
The real-time search option follows Microsoft's debut of a similar feature at its Bing search engine two months ago. But where Bing provides only a live, scrolling display of relevant updates from Twitter, Google's real-time search incorporates data from news sites, as you can see in the screen capture at right, and from a variety of other social networks, as Danny Sullivan explains in a post at Search Engine Land. (He also notes that Google helpfully expands shortened links, eliminating the mystery of clicking on a stranger's bit.ly link.)
Google says it will integrate this option into its regular search over the next few months, but in the meantime you can test it by visiting its Google Trends page and clicking on a link or trying a search under its "Hot Topic" heading.
Google's second big announcement, a free program for phones running the 1.6 or newer release of its Android operating system called Google Goggles, is a lot more impressive -- if less immediately useful. Like the "augmented reality" applications I wrote about last month, it fuses the Web and the real world in a way that seems straight out of sci-fi: You launch this program, take a picture of something, and Goggles consults with the Google hive mind to provide information about it.
As this BetaNews writeup recounts, Goggles can be freakishly accurate or frustratingly unhelpful, depending on the scenario. Sometimes it's both at once: When I took a picture of my business card, Goggles presented links to The Post's home page and to its logo but had nothing to offer related to my name. In other tests, logos meant nothing to Goggles -- it didn't recognize those of Apple or Dell -- but it deciphered text reasonably well, such as when it read the name of the town listed on a bottle's label and offered a link to the corresponding Wikipedia entry.
Presumably, Goggles will only get better over time, as Google creeps ever closer to its goal of indexing all that there is to know; for now, it's more of a neat party trick. If you've got an Android phone that can run it, give it a test and let me know how it works in the comments, then try the real-time search and report back on that ... and then we can all see how long it takes for your comments to show up in a Google search.
December 8, 2009; 11:49 AM ET
Categories: Gadgets , The Web
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