At its Inside Search event in San Francisco, Google has bolstered its world-domineering search service once again with a selection of new features.
First up, the voice search service you’ve seen on mobile platforms like iOS and Android is now available on desktop computers. You’ll need to have the latest version of Google’s own Chrome browser — and live in North America, for the moment — to use it.
A little mic icon appears in the search bar. When clicked, a built-in or hooked-up mic will let you bark out some search terms and Google will pop off to find results online. A Google employee showed off the power of the voice analysis with complex requests like “pictures of the yellow-bellied warbler” and “weather for Schenectady, New York”.
Another new feature is the ability to search with an image. By uploading, dragging or pasting the URL of a pic, Google will analyse your image and find some handy results. A purple flag reveals that it’s from Tokyo’s Chiyoda ward, shows you pages with that image and finds other, visually-similar flags.
Sites like TinEye have been doing this for a while now, but being able to tap into Google’s endless database of websites, images and “best guess” recommendations will give you more information on a chosen picture. We uploaded a screenshot of an iPhone game, and it told me — in seconds — that it was from Angry Birds Seasons. Very impressive.
Finally, there’s Instant Pages. This one pre-loads the first result of a web search in the background, so when you inevitably click on that top result the page should load up instantly. Instant Pages isn’t quite ready for prime-time yet, so it’s only available via the Chrome Dev Channel and Beta builds at the moment.