September is the month when technology giant Google marks its 20th anniversary. Although Google turned 20 on September 4, the company officially celebrates September 27 as its birthday, which is when one can expect the customary Google birthday Doodle. However, leading up to the date, the Mountain View-based company has introduced a number of new changes, which it calls “three fundamental shifts” in its earliest and oldest product - Search.
When Google Search first started, its results were displayed only in text. We all know how that’s not the case anymore. Search is now available in more than 150 languages and over 190 countries and it brings up everything from videos to text to images and even emojis. Now, to mark its 20th birth anniversary, Google is bringing three important additions to Search which will see the service becoming more visually appealing and AI-driven.
Google Feed is now Discover
The first fundamental change Google is bringing to Search and the way Google users discover new information is an overhaul of the Google Feed, complete with a new name. More in tune with its function, Google Feed will now be called Discover. Google says more than 800 million people use the Google Feed each month and to help them find more desirable content, the company is also bringing a fresh look to the service. Google’s Discover will now feature New topic headers with information cards underneath to make users more aware of what they are about to read or watch. Users can tap these topic headers to dive deeper into the content within that particular category. Users will also find a Discover icon next to each topic name, which they will also start seeing in Search. Users can tap “Follow” to start getting more info that topic in their Search experience. This is somewhat similar to what Google did with the new Google News.
Discover will also pull up more videos and fresh visual content depending on the user’s activity. For instance, if one is travelling to a destination, Discover may show up articles that best help the user explore the new place. Discover can also predict a user’s level of expertise on a topic and help them develop those interests further. A new control icon will let users bring up more or less content from a particular topic.
Currently, Discover can only be personalised to show English or Spanish content in the US but Google says that it will introduce more languages to the service soon.
What’s more is that Discover is also coming to google.com on all mobile browsers.
“Think of it as your new mobile homepage where you can not only search, but also discover useful, relevant information and inspiration from across the web for the topics you care about most. This will be rolling out over the next few weeks,” the company stated.
Search becomes more visual
Google seems to be taking its learnings from the new AI-based Google News to heart and is introducing similar visual content presentations in Search. Google will now construct AMP stories and surface this content in Search. These so called visual AMP stories look like blatant copies of Instagram Stories, showing images and videos layered with text. Google says it uses AI to construct these stories. “We’re starting today with stories about notable people—like celebrities and athletes—providing a glimpse into facts and important moments from their lives in a rich, visual format. This format lets you easily tap to the articles for more information and provides a new way to discover content from the web,” the company wrote in a blog post.
There’s also a new Featured Video experience in Search that will show up most relevant videos about a topic.
Withing Google’s Image Search tool, the company will now surface results based on the authority of a web page. For instance if one is looking for images for a particular DIY project, it is more likely that the image search will surface results from a DIY website. “We also prioritize fresher content, so you’re more likely to visit a site that has been updated recently,” Google stated.
Starting this week, Google will also show more context around images, including captions that show the title of the webpage where each image is published.
Google Lens is coming to images to surface shopping results. Clicking the Lens button in image search will help bring up similar products with links directing users to websites where they can purchase these products.
Activity Cards to retrace your steps around the web
Google is introducing new Activity Cards that aim to help users pick up from where they left off in Search. When users revisit a query related to a task they started in the past, Google Search will show them a card with relevant pages that they visited previously as well as list older search queries on this topic. Users can also add content from their Activity Cards to Collections, which feature websites, articles or images that users might want revisit quickly.