Mobile innovation is fueling Google’s search offerings for the desktop, as the company today announced two new search interfaces — Voice and Image — inspired by mobile Voice Search and Google Goggles, respectively.
With Voice Search for the desktop, which is a feature of the Chrome browser, users click a microphone icon in the search box, and then speak into their computer’s microphone.
Part of the idea, according to Google execs speaking at a media event in San Francisco, is to make voice search ubiquitous and increase awareness, to increase adoption. Already, mobile speech inputs to Google are up six times since being introduced.
Besides “training” users to begin to search by voice, Google says it anticipates the new feature will be used by folks with hard-to-spell or complicated searches, or by those who literally have their hands full.
This new interface will be rolled out to Chrome users on Google.com in English this week.
Google Search by Image for the desktop, part of Google Image Search, builds upon the image-recognition technology the company previously rolled out for mobile in Google Goggles. As in Goggles, users input an image, and Google returns results it believes are related to that image, along with similar images. Users select an image by dragging and dropping, uploading, or inputting an image URL. Installing a Chrome or Firefox extension enables searching by image by right clicking on the image on the Web.
The company demonstrated a few ways people might use desktop search by Image. In one, someone had forgotten exactly where he’d taken a particular picture on vacation. When the photo was dragged and dropped into the search box, Google returned results related to a particular Greek island. The feature works best for images of things that are quite well documented, such as often-photographed tourist attractions or images that are seen frequently online.
Image searches are treated like any other query in terms of privacy and data storage. Google search by image is rolling out today globally.