Google today announced that it’s updating its search engine with a host of new features for both desktops and mobile devices.
The tech giant says that it has implemented a new algorithm into the engine, which it’s dubbed “Hummingbird.” Google says it allows Search to better comprehend the context and content of pages around the web, which allows it to return more relevant results to more complex questions. The company actually began using Hummingbird around a month ago, but it formally discussed them at an event in California today.
This update has allowed Google to tinker with the engine’s Knowledge Graph, which can now return more detailed information directly above the standard web results. So if you search “country music artists” now, you’ll be presented with a grid showing Taylor Swift, Willie Nelson, and other musicians in the genre that Google recognizes as being popular across the web. Clicking on one of them will then bring up more details and relevant links.
A new “Filter” tool has been included with these kinds of results too, which lets you quickly switch to related queries. So, using our example above, clicking on the filter button at the upper right corner of the page will allow you to jump right to a list of rappers, hard rockers and the like.
Also new to the Knowledge Graph is a comparison tool, which lets you juxtapose the basic qualities of two separate objects. So, if, for some reason, you want to brush up on your dairy knowledge and figure out how many calories are in 100g of milk versus 100g of cheese, now you can do so. This functionality appears to be limited to somewhat simpler things (food, planets, animal types, etc.), but Google says it’ll be adding to it as time goes on.
All of that applies to the desktop and mobile versions of Search, but Google has also announced a few new things that are specific to the latter. For one, it’s gotten a visual redesign, which implements the same card-style look that the company has been using in Google Now for some time.
Google\’s also reiterated that, for Android devices, it\’s trying to make Search better at handling conversational follow-up questions. This is something it\’s detailed before, but if you search, say, The Statue of Liberty, then want to know how tall it is, you can simply ask “how tall is it” the second time around, rather than repeating “how tall is the Statue of Liberty.”
For iOS, Google is rolling out an update for its Search app within the next couple of weeks. When it hits, it’ll have support for push notifications, which can be synced across iOS and Android devices. Google says the update will let you save reminders using voice controls too, and that it’ll let you look at Google Maps data directly within the app itself.