SAN FRANCISCO (TheBlaze/AP) — On Wednesday, Google announced its Internet search engine would draw information from its users’ Gmail accounts on its main results page for those who opt into its pilot program.
The feature announced Wednesday marks Google’s latest attempt to deliver data that people are seeking more quickly as it tries to maintain the dominance of its lucrative Internet search engine.
Google Inc. is initially testing the feature with 1 million Gmail users who must sign up to participate. Gmail’s more than 425 million users already can search within their e-mail accounts to find something they need, such as an order from Amazon.com or an airline reservation. Now, Gmail users who join the trial will be shown a list of relevant e-mails on Google’s main search results page if the correspondence contains a word entered in a search request.
Here’s more from the company’s blog post announcing the pilot feature:
Sometimes the best answer to your question isn’t available on the public web—it may be contained somewhere else, such as in your email. We think you shouldn’t have to be your own mini-search engine to find the most useful information—it should just work. A search is a search, and we want our results to be truly universal. So we’re developing a way to find this information for you that’s useful and unobtrusive, and we’d love your feedback. Starting today, we’re opening up a limited trial where you can sign up to get information from your Gmail right from the search box.
So if you’re planning a biking trip to Tahoe, you might see relevant emails from friends about the best bike trails, or great places to eat on the right hand side of the results page. If it looks relevant you can then expand the box to read the emails:
CNET reports that there are “rudimentary” security controls for this new search functionality. It notes the globe icon at the top right of the page will hide these more personal results, while clicking on the human silhouette icon can bring them back:
Sagar Kamdar, the Director of Product Management for Universal Search at Google, explained that the Gmail integration is more limited because of the unique challenges e-mail presents. “Gmail is almost the same size as our Web corpus, and now you need to make it private and secure,” he said.
Of course, one would need to be logged into his or her Gmail account for this functionality to occur and only information from his or her Gmail would be displayed in search results.
CNET also reports Senior Vice President of Google Search Amit Singhal, who authored the announcement blog post, saying although this search function is not available for smartphones, but “it is coming.”
Google also announced that its “Knowledge Graph” — a “database of more than 500 million real-world people, places and things with 3.5 billion attributes and connections among them” — was going global.
“If you’re in Australia and search for [chiefs], you’ll get the rugby team—its players, results and history,” Singhal wrote. “[…] if you search for [rio], you might be interested in the Brazilian city, the recent animated movie or the casino in Vegas. Thanks to the Knowledge Graph, we can now give you these different suggestions of real-world entities in the search box as you type.”
Watch Google’s video announcement on these new capabilities:
Google also released an enhanced version of voice search to “better interpret your questions and sometimes speak the answers back as full sentences.” Watch how the feature works: