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Google live updates

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/08/technology/companies/08google.html?ref=technology
December 8, 2009
Google Adds Live Updates to Searches
By BRAD STONE
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Unveiling significant changes to its dominant search engine on Monday, Google said it would begin supplementing its search results with the updates posted each second to sites like Twitter, Facebook and MySpace.
As part of its much-anticipated entrance into the field known as real-time search, Google said that over the next few days its users would begin seeing brand-new Tweets, blog items, news stories and social networking updates in the results for certain topical searches.
Previously it took a few minutes for updates from social networks and blogs to filter into Google’s results.
“Clearly in today’s world, that’s not fast enough,” Amit Singhal, a Google fellow, said at a press conference at the Computer History Museum here. “Information is being posted at a pace we’ve never seen before, and in this environment, seconds matter.”
A search for “Copenhagen” on Google, for instance, produces the standard Web results, but with a box in the middle of the page where blog items, press releases, news stories and Tweets scroll past. The box updates every few seconds. A Tweet from Tom Nguyen (@tomng), referencing the climate talks that began Monday, read: “It’s snowing in North Beach. Explain that, Copenhagen.”
Searching for “Pearl Harbor” turned up Tweets from people who were memorializing those who died in the attack there, while the live results for “Tiger Woods” were less family-friendly.
Google struck formal partnerships with Twitter, Facebook and MySpace to quickly bring updates from those services into its search index. The companies did not disclose terms of those deals, although a person briefed on the Twitter deal said Google made a large up-front payment.
Facebook has said publicly it is not earning money from the deal, and is only giving Google updates from the public “profile pages” on the service, which can already be seen by anyone on the Web.
Twitter makes a search tool available on its own site. But Biz Stone, a Twitter co-founder, said that Google would be better able to serve up Tweets that are relevant to a particular user’s questions. “Were not good at relevancy right now, and they are,” he said. “More people will get more value out of Twitter because we are doing this with Google.”
Twitter has also struck a separate deal with Microsoftto make live updates available in the Bing search engine.
The new Google features are likely to be most useful during breaking news events like earthquakes, when people want constantly updated information without having to scan multiple sources, said Danny Sullivan, editor of the blog Search Engine Land.
For other situations, Mr. Sullivan said, the live scrolling is likely to be little more than “eye candy,” since the information was always present in Google search results but just took slightly longer to get there.
Google unveiled several other products at its event on Monday. The most ambitious, called Google Goggles, allows people to send Google a cellphone photograph of, say, a landmark or a book, and have information about the contents of the image returned to them instantly.
The technology has one potentially provocative use: someone could conceivably send Google a photo of a person — if they don’t remember an acquaintance’s name, for example — and get enough information about him or her to avoid an awkward encounter.
But Google said image recognition technology would have to improve and the privacy implications would have to be more fully considered before it would make that possible. Google Goggles works on phones running Google’s Android operating system and will be available for other phones soon.
Google also outlined developments in voice search, which will make it easier for people to search the Web from a mobile phone. It said it will now allow people to speak their queries to Google in Japanese, in addition to English and Chinese. The company plans to add new languages next year.
Demonstrating the feature, a Japanese Google employee spoke a rather long query into a Motorola Droid phone, asking for the best restaurants near Google’s offices in Tokyo. In response, the Droid phone returned a detailed map of the area, with restaurants pinpointed on the page.
“We are just in the third decade of the personal computer revolution, and it may be only now may be our eyes open to what the possibilities may be,” said Vic Gundotra, a vice president of engineering at Google, citing improvements in wireless connectivity and Internet services.
Mr. Gundotra also demonstrated a tool that would let a person speak a request into her phone in English and have it read back in another language. He said the feature could be introduced next year.

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