Live Blog: Google Unveils Voice Search & Search By Image For Desktop, “Google Instant Pages”

Everyone ready? Because the big day has arrived! Google’s “Inside Search” event begins today at 9:30am Pacific Time. OK, reset your expectations. It might not be that big. But I’ll be live blogging it, so stay tuned.

The event was only announced a few days ago, and it’s anyone’s guess as to what’s happening. I’m assuming it’s not just a general “state of search” overview, as Google has done in the past, given that there will be product demos at the end of it.

Maybe it’s all about Panda 3? No, no. I’m just stirring up trouble. We’ll all know soon enough.

Those at home can play, too! There’s a live stream over here on YouTube that’s just been announced for the event coming out of the Yerba Buena Center For The Arts, in San Francisco. Tune in there, tune in here — do both!

Coverage starts around 9:30am PT. Watch this space.

And we’re off. Housekeeping, how to access the web (no problem, they gave us awesome hard lines). Diet Coke. Check. A Q&A will all presenters will come at the end.

Here’s Amit Singhal, Google Fellow, guarder of the search algorithm, is out to tell us about the “numerous and exciting things that are happening inside search at Google.”

We’re starting to talk about knowledge. What’s know, us having facts and information we need. If we’re missing a fact, our train of thought is derailed, and we’re slower to acquire knowledge we want.

Search is about removing barriers between what you seek.

Even if you’re away from your computer, you need knowledge all the time. Your phone makes that easier.

Data Google has shows that humanity has a fundamental need to learn.

Search traffic shows that desktop traffic dips on the weekend. No one searching? No.

Mobile search traffic picks up then. Our search needs continue but move to a new device.

Over the period of a day, search traffic rises to lunch, take a tiny dip when we eat, then dips down toward the evening. All on the desktop.

But on mobile, from evening on through 9pm, mobile search traffic starts to go up. Oh, at noon when desktop traffic dropped? Mobile traffic goes up.

Now seeing three years worth of Google desktop growth from its early years. Lots of rise, with dips mainly in the summer time — “we call it the summer slump.”

There is no summer slump or something–sorry didn’t catch calm on mobile, he says, showing the mobile traffic growing without any dips.

What’s fueling it? Focus on getting that “hole in one” with the right result. Even more critical you get the first result right with mobile because you can show only so few results.

Scott Huffman, engineering director now up to talk more about mobile search.

Showing a refreshed Google mobile home page with icons at the bottom. Ah, this is some news finally. There’s a new Google search interface for mobile.

Showing how you can “fast flip” through stock information, apparently that was already launched in March but maybe not noticed.

Now doing search for hilton hotel moscow. There are little + symbols in the query box by suggestions that come up, you can click on one of these + symbols to make it easier to enter complicated searches.

Not really sure how this is faster than just picking the suggested query from the list rather than using this “query builder” as they call it.

Now we’re seeing the Google Instant fast flip thing that was launched a few weeks ago, and I’ll add a link to that later, but makes it possible to flip through images of pages.

Now showing a new interface for searching on tablets that will come in a few weeks. Now showing Google Translate on mobile phone going from English to Russian. Don’t know if that’s a new addition or not.

Mike Cohen, manager of speech technology up to talk about searching by voice (which is pretty awesome from Google, I have to say).

Mobile speech inputs up 6X over since it’s been introduced.

For it to be successful, need to be accurate and ubiquity, it needs to be everywhere. For accuracy, Google’s constantly working to improve. The more people are confident, the more they come back to do repeat usage. To improve, lots of data flowing in.

Just for US English, to train for accuracy, the system gets 230 billion words worth of data from real queries which takes many CPU “decades” to crunch.

Estimate cover 2/3rds of world’s population now in terms of languages.

Where next? Johanna Wright, director of product management for search to talk more. How can you bring mobile innovations back to the desktop.

Talking about her family wanting to learn Spanish. Husband asked her how to say “squirrel” and she told him but “how do you convince your husband that you know something” since he didn’t believe her.

Told him to take his phone and say “translate squirrel to spanish” and he didn’t think it would work — but it brought up the answer on Google “and I was right.” Plus, she was happy her product worked right, too :)

Today announcing voice search on desktop. A microphone icon will be appearing in the search box. There are some demos. They work, as you’d expect, and as Google Voice Search on mobile typically works well.

I don’t see this live myself; Google hasn’t said if it’s about to roll out (likely) or how to force it. Stay tuned.

Moving on, today also announcing search by image on desktop. Give it an image, find what you’re looking for. Wow, we’re seeing an image dropped inside a search box to do the search.

Look in the screenshot above, in the URL bar. See how it’s a file name. That’s what you get after you drop the image into the search box.

Search by image uses much that Google Goggles for the phone does. Lots of tech talk of how images are detected.

Rolling out globally on over the coming days. If you see a camera on it, you’ve got it. Copy and paste URLs, upload images, drag and drop or use Chrome or Firefox extensions to do it. No IE, apparently.

Amit is back, talking about speed and Google Instant. Today announce that Google Instant is available in 32 languages on multiple devices around the world.

Also coming in next few weeks on Google Image search. And a video is giving us a sneak peak.

Some time info now. Takes about 9 seconds for someone to enter a query; milliseconds for Google to do its business, then 15 seconds for users to pick a result. Instant helped save users time on the selection process, he says.

Google Instant Pages now announced. With these, when you click on a result, the page will just be there, instantaneously. Sounds like preloading pages in your browser.

Showing how this loads a page faster. I could swear this isn’t that new. I remember years ago Google was preloading the first page in your results already — it was a big issue for those with server logs and wondering if they got more traffic than they got. Maybe it’s preloading all the top pages in the results, rather than the first result only.

Amit is back, saying that Google does prerendering on pages they predict will be most clicked. Which wouldn’t that be the top page or top few pages? I mean, that’s what they’re listing. What’s to predict?

Google Instant Pages adds another 2-5 seconds of time saved over the Google Instant 2-5 seconds that were already being saved.

Google Instant Pages available this week in the Chrome beta or developer version offers it today.

And now it’s Q&A time.

Will Instant Pages come to Firefox? Code is out there, hope others will take it.

How’s prerendering different than prefetching in Firefox (prefetching is what Google supported back in March 2005). Prerendering pulls in images, CSS, etc rather than just the HTML code only.

How to filter prerendering out of analytics. There’s code that webmasters can find (and I’d guess that Google Analytics automatically finds).

Recap what’s launching today?

Google Mobile: Query Building tool, local icons and user interface for Google Mobile, translate for Russian

Google Voice Search: Rolls out today and this week all across Chrome

Google Search By Image: Rolls out today globally

Google Instant Pages: Rolls out in Chrome beta this week; developer edition today.

And Google’s got a recap blog post up with info now, which you’ll find here.

Question on competition (“Bing is doing better” was part of it). Amit, says it’s good for users to have competition. Google’s doing a ton of innovation.

I’m tossing out a two-fer questions. One on if Google search by image does facial recognition…

If you upload personal photo, then it will return similar results. But if it’s a face, no, don’t do facial recognition.

I followed up to ask if there’s deeper facial recognition they could do. Said again no facial recognition. So it seems that they’re matching a photo as if it were a general image, and if there are other images that seem similar to that, you’d get them.

If things are famous, say a celebrity (or skipping ahead to another question asked if you could match a house), then it’s more likely a match will come back. A commonly photographed person or building is more likely to bring a match.

Asked Alan Eustace, who has the still relatively new title of senior vice president of knowledge, to talk about that word “knowledge” being used and generally who is responsible for search at Google now.

Alan says previously he had responsibility across all of engineering. Now as SVP of knowledge, he’s narrowed down into a specific product area. Knowledge is his area, the one he focuses.

Larry Page created the title of knowledge and put Alan there, Alan says, “because his veiw of search is much broader than just finding a page.”

Larry thinks Google should be responsible for understanding how things are related …. his view is that Google should be much better at understanding the world, and if we understand the world, we can lead users …. into understanding new things. Larry thought search was just too narrow a topic.

As for organization, Amit running the search organization. Also, it used to be that Google had separate product and engineering organization but now those are combined together.

Mostly for me it’s really elevating the importance of search in the organization, it’s allowed me to go deeper. It’s very exciting to see the opportunities.

Amit adds: When you look at classical information hierarchies, there’s data that you build on to get information to get knowledge. Search has done fantastic job of taking data from open web and converting into information. Focusing on knowledge is a natural progression.

Where’s the social? Johanna says nothing new today but had a pretty exciting year already with things like +1. Amit says seen it grow, pleased with what they’ve seen.

And that’s it. There’s related coverage on Techmeme, and we’ll have stories for each of the major announcements coming shortly linked off this page.

Postscript: Here are our standalone stories related to today’s Inside Search event:

Related Topics: Channel: Other | Features: General | Google: Web Search


About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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  • Joe Youngblood

    they seemed confused on the launch dates of everything, lol.

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