Search On 2021: Google introduces AI enhancements to Lens to improve search experience
Google has today announced a number of new features and some innovative AI additions to make the Google search experience more seamless and fulfilling for users. These announcements were made as part of its second annual ‘Search On’ live stream event.
The major changes include and MUM enhancements to Google Lens, a redesigning of the Google Search outlook, a new MUM-based experience that identifies related topics in a video, an inclusion of Lens in Chrome, the addition of an addressing tool for government and a couple more.
According to Google, these updates will make gathering information more helpful than ever. Now, here is a bit about everything that you need to know:
MUM enhancements to Google Lens
Google announced that they have reached a critical milestone in understanding information, with something called Multitask Unified Model (MUM). Google said that its team has been experimenting with using MUM’s powerful capabilities for a while now.
It can simultaneously understand information across a wide range of formats, like text, images and video. It can also draw insights from and identify connections between concepts, topics, and ideas about the world.
The team demoed a new way to search with Google Lens to demonstrate its ability to add text to visual searches and ask questions about what the user is seeing. So, if you see a shirt you like, but you’d prefer the pattern on socks, you can point your camera and ask the question.
Also, the new MUM-based experience will identify related topics from a video, even if the topic isn’t explicitly mentioned in it.
MUM will be launched on Google Lens in the coming months, starting in English.
New additions to About This Result
Google is also expanding the ‘About This’ result panels to include a “more insights” tab to help users learn more about the sources and topics that Google Search has thrown up.
So beginning from today, users will be able to find new insights about search results using the 3 dots at the top right. These insights include:
- More information about the source: In addition to seeing a source description from Wikipedia, you’ll also be able to read what a site says about itself in its own words when that information is available.
- What others have said: Reading what others on the web have written about a site — news, reviews, and another helpful background context — can help you better evaluate sources.
- More about the topic: In the “About the topic” section, you can find information such as top news coverage or results about the same topic from other sources.
This feature will be launched in the coming weeks in English in the U.S only.
Google also announced that it will be helping governments and NGOs to provide addresses to people and businesses around the world with its Address Maker. The feature will use Google’s open-source system, Plus Codes to create unique, functioning addresses at scale.
In a matter of weeks, Address Maker helps get under-addressed communities on the map — unlocking the ability to do things many people take for granted like vote, open a bank account, apply for a job, or even get packages delivered.
Google revealed that Governments and NGOs in The Gambia, India, South Africa, Kenya and the U.S. are already using Address Maker, with more partners on the way.
For the love of the environment…
Last year, Google launched a wildfire boundary map powered by satellite data to help people easily understand the approximate size and location of fire — right from their device. Now, Google is increasing its coverage and bringing all wildfire information together with a new layer on Google Maps.
The layer will include emergency websites, phone numbers, and evacuation information from local governments if they’ve been provided. When available, you can also see details about the fire, such as its containment, how many acres have burned, and when all this information was last reported.
This new update will be launched globally on Android, iOS and desktop in October.
Google also introduced the Tree Canopy data, a new feature that uses aerial imagery and advanced AI capabilities to identify places in a city that are at the greatest risk of experiencing rapidly rising temperatures.
This is in line with Google’s Environmental Insights Explorer (EIE) Tree Canopy tool that was piloted in Los Angeles, California last year.
Tree Canopy data has become a critical piece of the city’s long-term goal to increase tree shade by at least 50% by 2028.
With Tree Canopy data, local governments have free access to insights about where to plant trees in order to increase shade and reduce heat. Google is announced that it is expanding the Tree Canopy tool to over 100 cities around the globe, including places like Guadalajara, London, Sydney and Toronto during the first half of 2022.
Google announced a number of other exciting updates. These include:
Lens Mode: Starting soon, iOS users will see a new button in the Google app to make all the images on a page searchable through Google Lens. This will be limited to the U.S. at this time.
Lens in Chrome: Google is also bringing Google Lens to Chrome for users on desktop. This will allow users to select images, video and text content on a website with Lens to quickly see search results in the same tab — without leaving the page.
A more shoppable Search experience: Google is making it easier to browse for apparel on mobile right from your Search results. For example, when you search for “cropped jackets,” Google will show you a visual feed of jackets in various colours and styles alongside other helpful information like local shops, style guides and videos.
This new experience is powered by Google’s Shopping Graph, a comprehensive, real-time dataset of products, inventory and merchants with over 24 billion listings. This experience is limited to the U.S. at this time.
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