Go Inside Search to get the most out of Google

Whether you’re a beginner to web search or a search master, you’ll find all the search shortcuts you need under the Features section of the site. For example, most people don’t realize that the Google search box is a calculator, a world clock and a unit converter. You can also discover tips like how to use translated sites to search for [crepe recipes] on French sites or how to use an asterisk in a phrase or question so Google can fill in the blanks.

In addition, if you ever wonder how search takes your query and delivers results, you can use Inside Search to get an under-the-hood look at the technology behind Google Search. There are interactive diagrams with information on how far every query has to travel to get an answer back to you, how often we run experiments (we ran over 6000 in 2010 alone), how much time has gone into developing the algorithm and more. We’ve also included the Search Globe, an interactive display of searches around the world, on this page.

Inside Search also takes advantage of HTML5 to create a more interactive experience throughout the site, so instead of just clicking to read a list of search facts, you can do something a little more fun, like pick up a test tube with your mouse and pour the solution onto the Google homepage to reveal interesting facts about search:

Finally, be sure to visit the Playground section of the site. There, you can try your hand at the A Google a Day trivia game, browse our gallery of past Google doodles and be on the lookout for new fun additions coming soon.

To learn new search tips, get a behind-the-scenes look at Google technology or find out more information about the announcements from Tuesday’s event, visit the new site at www.google.com/insidesearch.

Posted by Johanna Wright, Director, Search Product Management

Google The Future, According to Google’s Results

Today’s XKCD comic explores the future using the top Google results for queries like “by the year *”, “by <year> *”. According to Google’s search results, one year after the 2012 Apocalypse, “microchipping of all Americans begins”. In 2014 “GNU/Linux becomes the dominant OS” and by the year 2020, HTML5 is finished and “newspapers become obsolete and die out”.

Here’s the entire future timeline, which includes prediction about Android, US debt, India, world population, global warming and robot policemen.

{ comic licensed as Creative Commons }

A Google a Day

Google launched a site that shows a puzzle which can be solved using Google Search. “A Google a Day is a new daily puzzle that can be solved using your creativity and clever search skills on Google. Questions will be posted every day on agoogleaday.com and printed on weekdays above the New York Times crossword puzzle,” informs Google’s blog. Some may say it’s just a way to increase Google’s market share in the US, now that Bing is increasingly popular. Microsoft also used games to attract more users, so it’s not a new idea. Unlike Microsoft’s Club Bing, there’s no monetary incentive to solve Google’s puzzles.

“A Google a Day” was created by Daniel Russell, a Googler who has a great blog about web search. “For the past several years I’ve been trying to put together some kind of game that would engage people in a playful way to learn how to search. After many trials, we FINALLY got one version of the Search Game out into the world! AGoogleADay.com is a simple game that poses a daily search puzzle for you to solve. The game starts today (Monday April 11, 2011) and will run for the next four weeks with each day’s puzzle getting harder from Monday through Friday. The secret agenda here is to get people to play around with search and to learn all they can do. I’ve felt for a while like Goggle gives people intergalactic hyperdrive starship capabilities, but most people only explore the shallows by paddling around with their shuttlecraft,” notes Daniel.

The most interesting thing about Google’s new site is that it uses an index called Deja Google which leaves out recent web pages. “To keep the game interesting for everyone, we created Deja Google – a wormhole inspired time machine that searches the Internet as it existed before the game began. Because nobody wants someone’s recent blog post about finding an answer spoiling their fun.”

Until Deja Google becomes a standalone service, you can use agoogleaday.com to remove recent pages from the results and to search Google’s index from April 5. You can also bookmark this URL: http://www.google.com/webhp?esrch=Agad::Public&nord=1.

Google 1 billion computing core-hours for researchers to tackle huge scientific challenges

Computing is an invaluable resource for advancement of scientific breakthroughs. Today we’re announcing an academic research grant program called Google Exacycle for Visiting Faculty, which provides 1 billion hours of computational core capacity to researchers. That’s orders of magnitude larger than the computational resources most scientists normally have access to.

This program is focused on large-scale, batch computations in research areas such as biomedicine, energy, weather and climate, earth sciences and astronomy. For example, scientists could use massive amounts of computation to simulate how pharmaceuticals interact with proteins in the human body to develop new medicines. Other uses could include simulations to predict weather patterns and analysis of telescope images to understand how the universe changes over time.

Exacycle for Visiting Faculty is part of our University Relations team’s larger efforts to stimulate advances in science and engineering research. If you’re a full-time faculty member, we encourage you to apply by May 31, 2011.

In the future, we think this service could also be useful for businesses in various industries, like biotech, financial services, manufacturing and energy. If your business can benefit from hundreds of millions of core-hours to solve complex technical challenges and you want to discuss potential applications, please contact us.

Posted by Alfred Spector, VP of Research and Special Initiatives

Google’s Homepage Promotes Gmail

Google’s homepage has briefly displayed a promotional message that encouraged visitors to try Gmail: “Switch to Gmail. Free email from Google”. The message linked to a page titled “Welcome to Gmail” that shows some of the advantages of using Gmail: lots of space, mobile access, less spam, labels and search.

“Gmail is built on the idea that email can be more intuitive, efficient, and useful. And maybe even fun. Creating an account is quick and free.”

The page doesn’t include a Gmail screenshot, a video that shows Gmail in action, but it invites visitors to create an account.

Google’s Interactive Doodle for Jules Verne’s Birthday

Google’s doodles are now a playground for creating small web apps. Static images are just the starting point for interactive apps that automatically load when you visit Google’s homepage. Pac-Man, Isaac Newton, John Lennon and the particles doodle are some of the interactive doodles that surprised many Google users.

Yesterday’s doodle celebrated Jules Verne’s birthday and managed to use some clever animations without being annoying. “[The] doodle, celebrating Verne’s 183rd birthday, tries to capture that sense of adventure and exploration. Using CSS3 (and with help from our resident tech wizards Marcin Wichary and Kris Hom), the doodle enables anyone to navigate the Nautilus (nearly) 20,000 leagues with the simple pull of a lever. And for those using devices with built-in accelerometers and the latest versions of Google Chrome or Firefox, it’s even simpler — just tilt your device in the direction you want to explore and the Nautilus will follow,” explained Google.

If you missed the doodle, you can now see a bigger version of the mini-app. It’s a good opportunity to check if you have a fast browser and to use the “zoom out” feature of your browser.

{ via Google’s Twitter account }

Google Image Search Indexes SVG Files

Last year, Google announced that it started to index SVG files, but the results were only returned by the web search engine. “SVG is an open, XML-based format for vector graphics with support for interactive elements. We’re big fans of open standards, and our mission is to organize the world’s information, so indexing SVG is a natural step. We index SVG content whether it is in a standalone file or embedded directly in HTML,” explained Google at that time.

Now you can find SVG files in Google Image Search by restricting the results to this filetype in the advanced search page or by using the filetype operator. Here’s an example: [molecule filetype:svg]. If you restrict the results to Wikipedia, Google returns 57,300 SVG files.

Most browsers can render SVG markup, but there are at least two important exceptions: Internet Explorer (IE9 will add support for SVG) and Android’s built-in browser.

Google Navigation Bar Switch

Google made a small change to the navigation bar used for its non-search services: the link to Google Reader was moved to the “more” drop-down, while the link to Picasa Web Albums was brought back to the main bar. At some point, both links were included in the main bar.

Google’s Brian Rose said that the Picasa Web team is working on “some fun stuff” and we’ll hopefully see some important changes in the near future. Meanwhile, Google Reader’s team posted on Twitter that “the Reader link at the top of Gmail (and other sites) was accidentally removed. It’s coming back soon, we promise.”

It’s still surprising to see that Google’s navigation bar is not customizable and you can’t add your favorite Google services. Google tested a customizable bar back in 2006, but this feature was quickly abandoned.

{ Thanks, Karol and Kristian. }

New Predictions for Google’s 2011

1. More free storage in Google Docs: at least 20 GB.

2. A new HTML5 interface for Gmail that loads faster, stores email offline and integrates with other Google apps like Google Calendar and Google Docs.

3. An updated Android keyboard that uses Google Scribd data to provide useful suggestions.

4. Google Earth as a WebGL web app and vector-based maps in Google Maps for desktop.

5. A database of things, where you can store important names, book titles, products, concepts and useful information about them.

6. Data sync for Google Chrome extensions.

7. Chrome for Android, with data sync, web apps, session restore, Cloud Print, built-in Flash and smarter address bar.

8. Google’s search engine will answer complex questions using inferences.

9. Google Personal Alerts will notify on your mobile phone if there’s something interesting around (one of your friends, a store that offers a discount for one your favorite products, a museum you wanted to visit, a shop recommended by one of your friends).

10. Google will learn to embrace Facebook and will start using Facebook Connect.

11. Google Online Store: the place where you can download Chrome/Android apps and games, e-books, buy magazine subscriptions, music and movies.

12. Android’s growth will slow down, but it will be the most popular mobile operating system because many companies will use it to create smart media players, digital cameras, TVs, game consoles and even home appliances.

13. Picasa Web Albums will become a Google Docs app and Picnik will switch to HTML5.

14. Google will acquire Disqus to make it easier to manage your comments and to improve Blogger’s commenting system.

15. Google Profiles will no longer be optional: when you create a Google/Gmail account, you’ll also create a profile.

16. Voice search and visual search for desktop.

17. Google will buy LastPass and offer an online password manager.

18. Google Wave will be resurrected, but it will have a simplified interface.

19. An online music player that will let you listen music from the Google Store or Google Docs, podcasts from Google Reader, online radios and more.

20. Google Fast Flip for web search powered by Google Instant Previews.

Going green at Google in 2010

At Google committed in building a clean energy future because we we want to be good environmental stewards, and because we think it makes business sense. We’ve had a busy year with our clean energy initiatives. Take look at our redesigned green website and this new video from the Google green team to learn more about the priorities we’re pursuing:

As we look back on 2010, we wanted to highlight what we’ve been working on this year to help build a more sustainable future—for Google, and the world.

  • Greening our operations. We already have the most energy efficient data centers in the world, and use renewable energy whenever possible. This year we created a subsidiary, Google Energy LLC, to enable us to purchase renewable energy on the wholesale power markets and to help spur development in the sector.
    • Flexibility in buying renewable energy. In February, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granted Google Energy LLC the authority to buy and sell energy on the wholesale market, giving us the flexibility to procure renewable energy at competitive prices.
    • 20-year green power purchase. Our FERC authority enabled Google Energy LLC to enter a 20-year green Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) in July to buy clean energy from 114 megawatts (MW) of wind generation at NextEra’s Story County II facility in Iowa (read more about how the deal is structured). By purchasing so much energy for so long, we’re giving the developer financial certainty to build additional clean energy projects.
  • Developing green products and tools. Just a few weeks ago, during the the U.N. Climate Change Conference in sunny Cancun, Mexico, we launched Google Earth Engine, a new Google Labs product. Google Earth Engine is a technology platform that makes an unprecedented catalog of imagery and data available online in one place for the first time. It enables global-scale monitoring and measurement of changes in the earth’s environment. We’re particularly excited about the initial use of Google Earth Engine to support efforts to stop global deforestation. We’ve also been busy this year incorporating green features into our products—like Google Maps biking directions and adding Carbon Disclosure Project ratings into Google Finance.
  • Investing in a clean energy future. To date, Google has invested over $100 million in clean energy. Google.org has already invested in several clean technology companies. We’ve also continued our internal R&D on renewable energy technologies (RE<C), substantially growing our engineering team. And this year, Google began making project investments that offer a solid financial return, and could have a transformational impact on the renewable energy sector.
    • North Dakota wind farms. In May, we invested $38.8 million in two North Dakota wind farms that generate 169.5MW, enough to power 55,000 homes. It was our first project investment, and uses some of the latest wind turbine technology and control systems to provide one of the lowest-cost sources of renewable energy to the local grid.
    • Offshore wind transmission. In October, we made a development stage investment in a project to build a backbone transmission line off the Mid-Atlantic coast. The project will put in place strong, secure transmission, removing a major barrier to scaling up offshore wind. When finished, the 350-mile line will connect up to 6,000MW of offshore wind energy—enough to serve approximately 1.9 million households!

It’s been a busy year at Google, and we believe the world needs better options in the future. As we head into the new year, we look forward to continuing our work to find and support innovative clean energy solutions.

Posted by Bill Weihl, Green Energy Czar Permalink