Google is updating its search engine with new tools to help you personalize the experience by making it tailored specifically to you.
Among the three reveals, the most impressive, in our opinion, has to be the upcoming Notes feature. This tool will pull together different “tips and advice” on a topic from across the internet if a search result isn’t particularly helpful. In a demonstration shown to us, a Google rep played the role of someone looking up instructions on how to make frosting for a birthday cake. Let’s say the first search result wasn’t what you were looking for.
Selecting the Notes button below that result connects you to content uploaded by other people offering unique insight to your query. By giving users the opportunity to learn from other people’s experiences, Google explained, you might find information better suited to your needs that an official source may fail to address. On the surface, it feels like the tech giant is launching a mini-social media platform on Search since the feature allows for a free-flowing exchange of information.
Be aware that Notes is a type of short-form content. There doesn’t appear to be enough room for long pieces of text. You won’t be able to write, for instance, a 500-word recipe for frosting. These Notes need to be short and sweet. It’s all about having people provide bite-sized tips on how to make something better such as suggesting adding a bit of lemon zest to a batch of frosting.
Guardrails and limitations
Google is aware that implementing such an update could expose Google Search to a bunch of bad actors coming in and uploading a bunch of inappropriate content. To combat this, it’s adding several guardrails. First, Google will be “using a combination of algorithmic protections and human review” to double-check what is uploaded. Second, the content in “each Note is ranked” according to a search result. The more relevant it is, the higher it’ll place. Finally, “anyone can report a note… for human review” if they run into any inappropriate content.
There are several limitations you need to be aware of. The search feature launches today, however, it will only be made available to users living in the US or India, plus they must be a part of the Search Labs program. Additionally, it will be exclusive to the mobile web version of Google Search as well as the official Google app.
If you want to try this out, we have a guide teaching people how to try out Google software betas. The guide describes gaining access to the Search Engine Experience, but it’s the same process.
Notes will start as an “experiment”. The company wants to see how well this feature will work on a grand scale. It’s unknown how long the trial will last or if it’ll see an official release.
Follow your favs
The rest of the update isn’t as dynamic, but it’s still interesting. Over the coming weeks, Google will introduce a Follow tool to American users on mobile. It’ll help you stay up to date on topics you frequently look up by providing “new-to-you” information. Follow can deliver news articles on the latest events of your favorite sports team or specific fashion trends.
In the image below, you’ll see how Follow changes. The left screenshot displays a fairly generic feed with a few pictures, but over time, Google will deliver videos from content creators specializing in your interest once it learns what you like.
Finally, the Perspectives tab will roll out to Google Search on desktop to, as you can probably guess, people living in the United States. This tool lets you find content from various online communities like forums or social media platforms. Prior to this, it was exclusive to mobile devices.
As you can see, the US is getting the lion’s share of this update. We asked a Google rep if there are plans for an international launch. All we were told is that they working on bringing the “features to locations”, but have nothing more to share at the moment.
We can see these tools becoming really useful helping you track great deals for tech during the holiday season. If you want our advice, check out TechRadar’s list of the nine Black Friday deals we recommend buying now.