Thanks to some wonderful colleagues, I recently learned about two new powerful Google search features that promise to make searching the web even easier. The first is Google Images’ ability to now search by dropping in an image file as a sort of reverse look-up a la TinEye. Here’s where to access this new feature (make sure you’re in Google Images first by choosing the ‘Images’ tab at the top of Google.com):
The second new Google search method is more interesting though for a couple of reasons. First is that as near as I can tell, it no longer exists (or at least not as I type this). And more importantly, when it was working, it only worked in Google’s Chrome browser. The new feature is called Voice Search, and it allows you to search simply by clicking on a microphone button and speaking aloud your search term.
The video linked above (and again here if you’re lazy) illustrates how the function works, and when I tried it last weekend, it did seem to work quite well, and I could see it being of great use for people who are still learning how to write in English.
I find it very interesting though that Google is actively installing features into its website that only function on their own proprietary web browser. While I can understand why Google would want to do this from a business perspective (control, control, control), this raises all sorts of questions about some of the connections that technology companies are making. While most of these synergies will ultimately benefit the users of these sorts of tools (after all, if we don’t like something, we generally take our business elsewhere), I see how they could also quickly lead to a decrease in competition (see this article about Google’s new flight search feature) by packaging together products that were previously available independently from one another.
So thanks Google for the new search functions. They do look very useful. But please, keep them open to everyone, and remember ‘Don’t be Evil’.
P.S., if Google keeps defaulting to a country specific domain on you (like google.co.jp or google.ca), you can force it to google.com by using http://www.google.com/ncr