It seems an understatement to say the folks at Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) are a busy bunch.
Last month, for example, the search giant launched the latest result of its $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility, the Android-powered Moto X smartphone.
Then, less than two weeks ago, Google agreed to purchase the entire output of the 240 megawatt Happy Hereford wind farm outside of Amarillo, Texas, which is set to start producing energy in late 2014, and will provide energy to the regional grid that serves a Google data center in Oklahoma. All told, that represents Google's fifth and largest long-term wind energy commitment so far.
And just last week, Google released a new, significantly smarter version of its Chrome browser for Apple's iOS users, which implemented various performance improvements, data cost savings functionality, and improved voice search capabilities.
This subtle upgrade is a huge deal
But for all the tangible progress Google makes with its various products, you can be sure there's plenty more going on behind the scenes.
Apparently, according to Google senior VP of search Amit Singhal on Thursday, nearly a month ago, the company quietly implemented a completely revamped version of its search algorithm, dubbed "Hummingbird." All in all, he says, Hummingbird is now affecting 90% of all searches, and stands as the most significant algorithm change since Google switched to its "Caffeine" indexing system back in 2010.
What's that? You didn't notice?
Well, that's entirely the point.
You see, Google's goal has always been to simplify search without negatively affecting its utility. As Singhal states, "You should not be spending your time searching, you should be spending your time living."
The thing is, as more people get online and grow comfortable with the technology, Google has seen a spike over the past several years of users entering lengthy queries -- even full sentences -- into their search tool.
So, while Caffeine in 2010 focused primarily on improving the timeliness and speed of Google's results, Hummingbird helps the search engine understand the context of those more complicated questions and statements. This, in turn, should make your search results significantly more relevant.
In short, for Google's users, the experience has simply gotten better without sacrificing the token simplicity so many people have grown to know and love -- and why Google has maintained control over a minimum of 80% of the search market every year since 2007.
For all Microsoft's attempts to use its "Bing it on" campaign to convince netizens that its Bing search engine is superior, and despite the fact that Yahoo! seems to be succeeding in pulling in more unique users, given its goals of integrating its products into the everyday habits of our lives, I'm still convinced that Google's efforts to continually, and quietly, improve its dominating core product should only serve to reinforce its solid position over the long term.
Fool contributor Steve Symington has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Google and Yahoo!. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.