Google Search Reinvention Focuses on Visuals and Discovery

Google is the latest tech giant to be swayed by the influence of TikTok and Instagram as it reimagines a more visual, discovery-centric type of search. That was major media’s takeaway from the third annual Google Search On event, which continued the trend of trying to find more intuitive ways to search, namely visually and vocally, by snapping a photo or asking your phone a question. Thanks to advances in artificial intelligence, the Alphabet company says it is “going far beyond the search box to create search experiences that work more like our minds.”

Envisioning “a world in which you’ll be able to find exactly what you’re looking for by combining images, sounds, text and speech, just like people do naturally,” Google says in a blog post that “you’ll be able to ask questions, with fewer words — or even none at all — and we’ll still understand exactly what you mean.”

“It’s an interesting thought experiment, really: what would Google’s equivalent of TikTok’s For You page look like?,” The Verge asks. “Google’s search team doesn’t know exactly, but it’s working on it. And at least so far, it looks like the answer will start to appear on the homepage of Google’s iOS app. That’s where many of Google’s new features are getting their start.”

In the run-up to Search On, Google execs “said over and over that search is undergoing a total reinvention,” according to The Verge, which quotes Google’s SVP in charge of search Prabhakar Raghavan attributing that  transformation to “incredible — and frankly unprecedented — advances in AI and machine learning and computer vision.” Specifically, AI and computer vision powering Google Lens and its new Multisearch feature, which allows a search to be initiated with a picture that is then modified with text.

“Google is embracing the idea that search isn’t a question-and-answer system. It’s a system for exploration, for discovery, for trying to learn things about which there are no obvious answers.”

The changes Google is introducing “show it’s taken some inspiration from how younger people use the web — preferring easily accessible and visual content, as well as more guidance as they begin to make queries,” writes TechCrunch.

Among the changes, Google plans to add shortcuts for new or lesser-known tools to its homepage. “Users will be presented with buttons that let users take quick actions to do things like translate text using their camera, solve a math homework problem, identify music, or shop from your screenshots,” TechCrunch says, noting “some of these are clearly aimed at younger audiences, like those who grew up Shazam’ing music or online shopping.”

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