Though Google's 2013 I/O developer conference, which kicked off in San Francisco on 15 May, is primarily focused on the company's Chrome and Android platforms, the Internet giant did not forget its roots, announcing several search updates, and discussing its vision for the future.
Forget about typing your request; Google wants to bring voice-activated search to the desktop. Mobile users can already use the microphones on their iOS and Android mobile devices to speak search commands. Google has now previewed hands-free voice search for the PC via Chrome.
The feature activates once the user says, "OK Google." In a demo, a Googler said, "OK Google, what's the weather in Santa Cruz," and Chrome gave her a spoken response. The idea is that you can have a conversation with your PC using natural language.
"People communicate with each other by conversation, not by typing keywords," Google said.
That extends to typed queries, too. People should be able to type in "my upcoming flight" and get details on their Friday travel plans, for example. Those who signed up for the trial that adds Gmail content to Google search results are already seeing these types of results, said Amit Singhal, a senior vice president and software engineer at Google.
The company also showed off reminders in Google Now. "With the new reminders in Now, not only can you save things to remember later, but you can actually pick a time or place to trigger those reminders, so they pop up at just the right time," according to Google.
If you're about the miss the last train, Google Now can send you an alert, or pop up an alert to buy milk when you're actually at the store.
Google has also given its Knowledge Graph - which provides enhanced search results - a boost. Singhal said that "very soon," Google users will start seeing statistics powered by the Knowledge Graph.
If you searched for the population of India, for example, the Knowledge Graph would anticipate your next move and offer an answer before you even ask. It might show you a population comparison with China and the US, which are most often compared to India in terms of size.
The Knowledge Graph has been available in eight languages, and Google said it will now extend to Polish, Turkish, simplified Chinese, and traditional Chinese.