Google has overhauled its search algorithm in what it is touting as its biggest update in three years. The firm has also unveiled a host of updates to its mobile offering, including a major update for users on Apple’s iOS operating system.
The so-called “Hummingbird” update, released as Google officially turns 15 years old, will be much better at answering longer and more complex queries. Hummingbird is the successor to “Caffeine”, the search giant’s last major algorithm update. The refresh has already been in use for a month, available to 90 percent of users.
The main areas Google has chosen to highlight are its mobile and voice search offerings. Searchers will now be able to come up with more “conversational” search terms and expand on queries they have already made.
Amit Singhal, senior vice president of search at Google, explained that his team had greatly expanded Google’s Knowledge Graph to create better results for queries “which don’t have an answer”.
He posed the following scenario on the firm’s Inside Search blog: “You can pull up your phone and say: “Tell me about Impressionist artists.” You’ll see who the artists are, and you can dive in to learn more about each of them and explore their most famous works. If you want to switch to Abstract artists, you can do that really easily with our new filter tool.”
Furthermore, Singhal also demonstrated better comparison features, with tables generated within its mobile apps to clearly display comparable facts about objects and people.
Users on iOS will also soon see a significant improvement to their Google experiences; the experience on Apple’s devices has somewhat lagged behind Google’s own Android OS. In the next few weeks, users will be able to get the same Google Now reminder notifications on their Apple mobile devices as on Android.
The latest updates from Google are relatively minor but continue to show the company’s focus on making itself a single, unified service which “knows what you want before you do”.
It will have to be careful to continue to make sure it does not give its own products too much priority over rivals, however, as institutions such as the EU have been cracking down on practices in recent years, with Google still at risk of multi-billion fines if it does not find a fitting way of alleviating their concerns.
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