Google’s New Tools Aims to Read Your Mind

Posted: May 24, 2013 in Tech Updates
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The company revealed some new search tools at I/O, its annual developers conference in San Francisco. Taken together, they are another step toward Google’s trying to become the omnipotent, human-like ” Star Trek” search engine that its executives say they want it to be ..

When people ask Google certain questions, it will now try to predict the person’s follow-up questions and answer them, too. Ask for the population of India, for instance, and you will also get the population of China and the United States, because Google knows those are the most common follow-up questions ..

“The ‘Star Trek’ computer shouldn’t just answer questions; it should make you more intelligent, should anticipate what you expect next,” Amit Singhal, senior vice president for search at Google, said in an interview before the conference ..

This is an extension of Google’s knowledge graph – its semantic search product that aims to understand the meaning of things, not just keywords. It is why a search for Barack Obama brings up links to Hillary Clinton and Honolulu, for instance ..

Google Now, the service that sends you information on traffic and weather before you even ask for it, is also digging deeper into our minds. Google is adding more entertainment alerts, like new music based on videos watched on YouTube, and turning Google Now into a robotic to-do list and a stronger competitor to Apple’s Siri ..

Tell Google to remind you to buy milk next time you are in a grocery store, for instance, and the alert will automatically pop up when you step inside a Safeway ..

Google is also trying to make search more conversational by encouraging people to talk to their phones and computers and hear answers out loud ..

Voice search has already been possible on both types of devices, but Google announced that people can now talk to its Chrome browser to perform a search, by saying, “OK Google.” (If Google has its way, we will all soon be walking around shouting, “OK,” because “OK Glass” is the command to activate its Internet-connected glasses) ..

Google also uses location information to answer questions. So people can ask, “How far from here to Santa Cruz?” and Google will know where “here” is, or they can ask, “How tall do you have to be to ride the Giant Dipper?” and Google will know that is a ride nearby ..

In another step to personalize search, Google is expanding its tool that plucks information from Gmail and presents it in search results. Already, a search for “flights” by logged-in users produces flight information from Gmail ..

Now, you can ask Google to show your photos from your trip to New York last year, and it will find them on Google+ and show them to you ..

Underlying many of these developments is Google’s privacy policy, which it revised last year to permit the company to use information shared with one Google service on another one. That is why Google can, for instance, pull information from Gmail to show up in search results or send you alerts about new movies because of a trailer you have watched on YouTube ..

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