Every year Google creates a summary Zeitgeist feature to sum up the year in search data, showing what has been the most popular among its users. Now, it’s rolling out Top Charts, a new monthly series of lists similar to that year-end feature, available on Google Trends as of today. It’s built on Google’s Knowledge Graph, and provides a representation of the actual things people are interested in, rather than just keywords alone.
The charts are broken down in broad categories, and include lists of things like actors, animals, whiskeys, TV shows, space objects and medications just to name a few. The charts display a top five in the main page view, with a relative rating indicated by a colored bar, as well as arrows to indicate whether the items on that list have gone up or down since the last monthly period. You can drill down to see a full list of 10 items, as well as a brief description of each, its peak ranking and the total time it has appeared on the charts. They’re also embeddable, as you can see below.
There are more than 40 Top Charts in total, and that’s not all Google has shown off today. There’s also a very cool animated visualized of the top trending search terms, which indicates what’s being actively searched for at this very moment, with a colorful background and smooth animated transitions. This tool is customizable as well, so you can view up to 25 searches at a time and set it for different regions.
Finally the Trends home page displays elements of each of these, with a hot search term list, and ranking indicators that show popularity over time and by geography for different terms. The changes are not huge, but they do provide some useful data on a more frequent basis than we’ve seen before, which can help people identify what people are interested in, useful for media organizations targeting their content, for instance, or for anyone curious about the pulse of the world’s Googling population.
Google took the lid off of its new version of Maps at I/O 2013 today, which is a dramatic redesign of the long-standing navigation and place-finding software across all platforms. We got a chance to go hands-on with the new Maps, which is still a beta product, with access only given out to a few select users so far. In the video above, you check it out in action as a Google rep gives us a walkthrough.
The new Google Maps takes a bunch of stuff that Google has been working on from Knowledge Graph to make, as it put it during the keynote, billions of apps for billions of people. That means you get a lot more personalization pulled into the experience, surfacing local landamrks that are likely important to you, as well as one-click directions from stored locations like your home address. Places frequented by your friends and acquaintances will also be pulled in to complete the picture.
The whole experience on a Chromebook Pixel was fast, responsive and remarkably intuitive. All the new touch controls seem perfectly designed for use with the Pixel’s touchscreen display, and reduce dramatically the number of steps required to do things like call up directions. The in-building panoramas and 360-degree images are very impressive, and truly do give you a sense of both the inside and outside of a location, but don’t expect the images to be all that comprehensive for most locations at launch.
Overall this looks like an awesome improvement to the Maps experience, and it’s hard to see any spots where the progress isn’t a good thing. But it’s very different, so expect some pushback when Google does eventually push this live to a wider audience.
Google announced some fresh updates for Google Now today, consisting of six new types of cards that will show up in the automated, intelligent digital assistant feature for Android and iOS. The new cards include a location-based Reminder feature, public transit travel times, and information about books, music, TV shows and video games that might be of timely interest to users.
The new Google Cards Reminder feature is based on time, people and location and can be set with simple voice commands using natural language processing. It’s like the geofenced Reminders that are used by Apple in iOS, but looks to be arguably more useful since it ties into the Google Now knowledge graph. Reminders takes Now further by giving users a way to actively set and retrieve content, which should help prove its worth among users who weren’t getting much out of the automated results previously being generated by the engine.
The other new cards provide good, useful info for getting around town, but all the new media additions should also Google help drive Google Play sales. It’s a clever way for Google to begin using Now, its next-generation predictive search tool, to drive the kinds of revenue that it might be missing out on more and more as traditional desktop search advertising becomes a less lucrative area in the new mobile age.
Amit Singhal, Google’s senior VP of search, today announced that Google’s Knowledge Graph will start exposing a number of statistics as graphs on the search results pages today. Google is also adding Polish, Turkish, Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese to its lineup of supported Knowledge Graph languages.
With regard to the statistics, Singhal said the system will also try to predict what your next question will be and add related statistics to the graphs. Say you want to know more about how many people live in India, Google may also show you stats for China.
Singhal also recapped a number of Knowledge Graph features that expose users personal information – the kind of information Google Now would usually expose, too. These are currently available in beta and uses can sign up for it here.
The Knowledge Graph, Singhal said, has enabled Google to move beyond keywords. “It allowed us to answer questions we couldn’t previously answer.” Clearly, Google has been investing heavily in this technology and the company also today announced its new voice-enabled conversational search feature that makes it even easier to find answers from the Knowledge Graph.
Singhal also stressed that this is just the beginning. Google’s investment into making its search smarter is “immense,” he said. While there are still many problems to overcome, Google is clearly pursuing these new kinds of search experience (while de-emphasizing social search, it seems).
Bing recently introduced its updated people search feature and today, Microsoft is adding a few improvements to its people search that will make it even easier to find information about celebrities, politicians, athletes and many people with public LinkedIn profiles. Bing’s search box now auto-suggests names as you type. Because many people share the same name, this also means that it’s now easier to tell Bing who exactly you are looking for before you even hit the return key.
According to the Bing team, about 10 percent of searches on Bing are currently about people. This makes it the second most important search category on the service, right after navigational queries.
Microsoft has invested heavily in improving its people search and other semantic search features on the site, which now compete directly with Google’s Knowledge Graph. Bing’s Satori Entity Engine powers all of these features, which are typically revealed in Bing’s Snapshots bar (that is, in between the regular web links on the left and the social sidebar on the right).
In many ways, Satori’s mission is akin to Google’s Knowledge Graph, as it aims to help Microsoft understand more about the world. As Microsoft’s director of online services Stefan Weitz told me when the company released its last update to Satori, Google’s Knowledge Graph is a “kick-ass encyclopedia,” but Bing wants to go a step further and make all of this information “actionable.”
This new update, Microsoft notes in today’s announcement, was co-developed by its Search Technological Center (STC-E) in London in close collaboration with the User Experience team in Bellevue, Wash.