Google expands Knowledge Graph, trials Gmail content in search

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Google announced a handful of updates for search yesterday in a post titled “Building the search engine of the future, one baby step at a time”. According to the company’s vision, that future involves understanding what your search queries mean and giving you back exactly what you want in less clicks, which they hope to accomplish by leveraging billions of data points with Knowledge Graph and trying out a few other things.

Knowledge Graph

The company said they’ll expand their Knowledge Graph feature, launched in May, across every English-speaking country in the world. As a refresher, Knowledge Graph uses a database of more than 500 million real-world people, places and things, with 3.5 billion attributes and connections among them, to present Wikipedia-like expandable boxes relevant to your query alongside the usual search results.

The idea is to provide instant answers without users needing to dig deeper by actually clicking on any links.

Google says Knowledge Graph results are going to be localized for different regions: “If you’re in Australia and search for [chiefs], you’ll get the rugby team—its players, results and history.” In addition, Knowledge Graph results will also be added to the auto-complete search box, improving Google's search functionality overall.

Gmail results in search

Another new feature that’s already causing a bit of concern among privacy conscious users is the ability to show relevant information stored in your Gmail account alongside search results. Now, there are a few things to note here. Most importantly, this is part of a limited trial and will be opt-in, which means if you don’t go out of your way to participate nothing will change for you -- your emails and search results will remain separate.

Those that choose to participate will see related information from their personal emails -- not everyone’s, of course -- on the right column. To cite Google’s example, if you’re planning a biking trip to Tahoe, you might see relevant emails from friends about the best bike trails, or great places to eat while you are there.

That box will also be hidden, just in case you don’t want whoever is standing next to you taking a peek over your shoulder, so users are required to manually expand it with a click before email data is visible.

Intelligent voice search

Lastly, Google also said it will launch a new version of the Google search app for Apple’s iPhone and iPad that allows people to ask questions such as “what movies are playing this weekend?” and get instant audio and visual answers, with schedules and even trailers, similar to Apple’s Siri. The feature is powered by Google’s knowledge graph and is already available on mobile devices running Android.

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