Want to stay in the know about worldwide goings-on without having to read the news? Just check Google Trends' Top Charts — lists of the most-searched people, places, and things in more than 40 categories.
Built on the Knowledge Graph, the new Top Charts feature is updated monthly, and reaches as far back as 2004. The data is similar to Google's year-end Zeitgeist offering, with info on things like the 10 most searched cities, movies, or scientists (spoiler alert: Albert Einstein is No. 1).
To check out what's popular right now, visit Google Trends and click "Top Charts" on the left side. Listed in alphabetical order, the charts can also be sorted specifically by category — business and politics, entertainment, nature and science, shopping, sports, travel and leisure.
Google software engineer Roni Rabin said that Top Charts show interest in real things, not just keywords.
"When you look at a chart of sports teams and you see the Golden State Warriors, those rankings are based on many different related searches," Rabin explained, pointing to terms like "gs warriors," "golden state bball," and "warriors basketball."
"That way you see which topics are most popular on Google Search, however people search for them," she said.
Curious about where your favourite cocktail lands in terms of global search popularity? Wondering what chemical elements people around the world are Googling? Click on the heading to find the top 10 terms, as well as detailed information about their lifespan on the chart, and even deeper data about each sports team, celebrity, government official, or dog breed.
While Top Charts provide Google's most accurate search volume rankings, Rabin admitted that no algorithm is perfect, and there may be the rare anomaly found in the data.
For those who don't want to put in the effort to skim through Google's ready-made lists, the company also introduced a colourful way to visualise trending searches as they happen. On the Trends homepage, a new link to "Visualise Hot Searches in full-screen" provides the latest trending topics in a new way.
Customise the layout by expanding the page to see as many as 25 searches at a time; each block changes colour as its query changes. Users can also change the search region, if they are in, say, Hong Kong, the US or Canada.
In addition to the new Top Charts function, Google is sprucing up its website, adding "more interesting stuff" to the homepage, and making sure the search box is always available at the top of the site.
Earlier, Google revealed that it has revamped and refreshed its Drive for Android app.