Google announced a slew of artificial intelligence-powered features across its products including Search, Maps and Translate on February 8, amid escalated competition from its Big Tech rival Microsoft which is also integrating the technology across its suite of products.
"We have only scratched the surface of what's possible with AI. We have long been pioneers in the space, not just in our research but also in how we bring those breakthroughs to the world and our products in a responsible way" said Prabhakar Raghavan, Senior Vice-President, Google during a company event held at Paris.
Raghavan said the perfect search experience remains elusive at present since two things are constantly changing: how people expect to engage with information in a natural and intuitive manner and how technology can empower that experience.
"We are creating new search experiences that work more like our minds and reflect how we as people naturally make sense of the world. As we enter this new era of search, you will be able to understand information no matter which language it originated in, search anyway and anywhere," he said.
Raghavan also previewed the company's recently announced experimental conversation AI service 'Bard' which aims to compete with OpenAI's viral chatbot ChatGPT, along with other generative AI features in its search engine that can summarise information from the web. Google also plans to open up its Generative Language API to developers, creators and enterprises from next month.
"As we continue to bring generative AI technologies into our products, the only limit to search will be your imagination," he said.
Read: Google unveils ChatGPT rival Bard, AI search plans in battle with Microsoft
Global expansion of Multisearch
Google is rolling out its multisearch feature, which allows users to search using both text and images simultaneously, globally on mobile devices in all languages and countries where Lens is available.
The feature was first previewed in September 2021 and was rolled out to US-based users in April 2022. In December 2022, Google had announced that the feature will support multiple Indian languages beginning with Hindi this year.
In addition, "Multisearch near me", a variation of the multisearch feature designed to highlight local businesses, will also be rolling out globally in the coming months.
The feature lets users take a picture or a screenshot of products in categories such as food, apparel and home goods and add a 'near me' text query to browse through nearby local retailers or restaurants that may offer them.
Read: How India is helping Google Search become more natural and intuitive
Besides this, the search giant will enable people to use the multisearch feature on any images they see on the search results page on mobile phones.
During the event, Raghavan said that people are using Lens more than 10 billion times a month, signalling that visual search has moved from novelty to reality, with the camera becoming the new keyboard.
In the coming months, people will also be able to use the visual AI tool to search what's on their mobile screen across the world. The feature builds up on Google Assistant’s “What’s on my screen?” feature, enabling people to search what they see in photos or videos across all websites and apps such as messaging and video apps, without leaving it.
New contextual translations
Google Translate will provide users with more contextual translation options in languages such as English, French, German, Japanese and Spanish with descriptions and varying examples in the intended, translated language in the coming weeks. This essentially means that people will be able to use the right words, phrases or local idioms based on the context of the text.
The service is also rolling out a redesigned iOS app with a larger canvas for typing, a dynamic font that automatically adjusts as text is typed in, making translation results more readable, and new gestures like swiping down to quickly access recent translations and holding the language button to pick a recently used language.
The iOS app has also added offline translation support for 33 additional languages including Basque, Corsican, Hawaiian, Hmong, Kurdish, Latin, Luxembourgish, Sundanese, Yiddish and Zulu.
New Google Maps features for EVs
In terms of Google Maps, the company is rolling out the immersive view feature in five cities, namely, London, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Tokyo, with plans to expand to more cities including Amsterdam, Dublin, Florence and Venice in the coming months.
First unveiled during Google I/O 2022 in May 2022, the feature lets users explore and experience a place even before they visit the place. With this view, one can see what an area looks like at different times of the day, view weather and traffic conditions along with the area's busy spots.
The search giant is also rolling out new Maps features for electric vehicle (EV) drivers with vehicles that have built-in Google Maps. The service will now suggest the best charging stop based on factors such as current traffic, charge level and expected energy consumption. A new ‘very fast’ charging filter will help users find stations that have chargers of 150 kilowatts or higher.
Maps will also show users in search results when places like a supermarket have charging stations on-site, the company said.
Apart from this, Google will roll out glanceable directions that will let users track their journey right from the route overview or lock screen. The feature will be on Android and iOS devices in the coming months.