Oct 16, 2020 - Technology

Google taps AI for new search tricks

Screenshot of a Google search bar with the words "Search On" written inside the bar

Courtesy: Google

Google on Thursday outlined a number of new features for its core search product, including the ability to search for that song stuck in your head by humming or whistling.

Why it matters: While humming may be a cute use case, it shows Google’s recognition that there are plenty of ways to search beyond typing terms into a box. The company has been investing heavily in voice search as well as AI capabilities to help people use their smartphone camera to look up plants or get help with translation.

What's new: Beyond the hum-to-search feature, Google announced several other features Thursday during a livestream event dubbed "Search On."

  • Google is rolling out a new algorithm to better detect when someone uses the wrong word in a search or simply has their fingers misaligned on the keyboard. It really works, as I found out in a back-and-forth on Twitter with Google search liaison Danny Sullivan.
  • To help during the COVID-19 crisis, Google is making it easier to know whether a particular location is crowded at any moment and what precautions, such as mask requirements, are being taken there.
  • Google detailed its progress with Duplex, its automated assistant that can call merchants to make appointments. The company said it's also using the technology to make more than 3 million updates to business listings, such as pharmacies, restaurants and grocery stores, in search and Maps.
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