Google to Offer Real-Time And Visual Searches

Dennis Faas's picture

Google will soon offer a range of new search options. The improvements include a constantly updated "real-time" search and some creative ways for using camera phones.

One of the main drawbacks to any search engine has been that it takes time for pages to be scanned, analyzed and then added to the site's index so that they appear in searches. Today, that time has been greatly reduced, and it's common for news stories to appear on the first page of Google search results on the same day they are published.

However, that's not enough for some users who want to search for the latest details on a story or event, often from sources outside the mainstream media. That includes sites like Twitter, which allows visitors to search for a topic written a few seconds prior.

"New Results" Section Newer Than News

Google has responded by adding a Real Time search feature.

For the moment, it will only apply to the ten most popular search terms, as listed on Google Trends. For these search terms, there will now be an extra section in the results, appearing between the News results and the main web results. This section will list the latest relevant web pages, but the section will automatically scroll down every few seconds and update itself. (Source:

To give an example, at the time I wrote this article the top Google Trend topic was Tiger Woods' personal life. When I clicked through to the results page, the Real Time section flicked back and forth between newly-published newspaper reports and Twitter posts. While this isn't particularly impressive at the moment (I could have got the same effect just by visiting Google News and ordering results by date, then searching Twitter), it's a sign that Google is on the right track.

The firm says the trick is to balance the need to display the very latest results while still giving prominence to credible and relevant pages.

Google Goggles: For Cell Phones

Google is also releasing an interesting tool for cellphones, dubbed Google Goggles. The idea is that users can take a photograph with their phone and then get relevant results.

For example, photographing a book cover in a store will bring up websites mentioning the book, along with links to buy it online. Photographing a painting will cause Google to scan its database to identify the image, then give extra details about the picture and its history. (Source:

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