It's not your imagination: Google Search is getting more helpful. The bread-and-butter service of parent organization Alphabet (GOOGL 1.90%) (GOOG 1.56%) recently announced new AI-powered features to improve its usefulness. Some are legitimately helpful, others just quirky and fun, but all are aimed at maintaining Google's digital data search and advertising dominance.
From type to voice to... humming?
Google Search has already been adding AI-based algorithms to improve search results, but many of those features will be getting even better. For example, Google says 1 in 10 searches aren't spelled correctly. The "Did you mean..." generator does a good job of interpreting what an internet user actually meant and providing related results, but tweaks to the algorithm working behind the scenes will speed up the retrieval time and increase the number of parameters dictating Google's understanding of language.
Google Search will also get better at directing a user to specific paragraphs of text or segments of videos that answer a query. Similar information retrieval will be added to Maps, displaying a business's opening hours, how busy it is, and applicable COVID-19 safety info directly on the map itself. Pointing a smartphone's camera at a location while following Maps walking directions can also be used to pull up info. Thinking of a song but can't remember the words? Try humming it, and Google might recognize it. Google is also improving its Shopping feature.
What's all this to Google's advertising empire? Google and its tech giant peers are under antitrust scrutiny, both in the U.S. and abroad. Possible action from regulators isn't exactly an existential threat to the internet search champ. Still, becoming increasingly useful, "transparent," and "fair" -- even to its competitors in the digital advertising space -- could help it maintain its lead if new rules and regulations are enacted.
After all, for most consumers, Google is the default engine of choice without a second thought. Keeping it that way will help it defend its turf, which tallied up to $21.3 billion in Google Search ad revenue during the second quarter of 2020 alone.