Google held its second annual Search On event, which is basically an opportunity for the company to convince you it’s using AI and other new tech in good and helpful ways, such tackling misinformation and climate change. Here’s a wrap up of the announcements made early Thursday morning.
Wildfire Layer, Coming First To Australia
Starting this week, Google will be rolling out its wildfire layer on Google Maps.
Essentially, this gathers all of Google’s wildfire information together and adds it to Maps as a ‘layer’. The idea, unveiled at Search On, is to have up-to-date details about multiple fires at once.
Tapping on a fire will list available links to resources from local governments, such as emergency websites, phone numbers for help and information and evacuation details. When available, you can also see important details about the fire, such as its containment, how many acres have burned and when all this information was last reported.
The wildfires layer will start to roll out in Australia this week on Android, with iOS and desktop coming in October. The rest of the world will see the feature in the coming months.
Tree Canopy Insights Comes To Sydney
Next year, Google will be expanding its Environmental Insights Explorer Tree Canopy tool. Currently, there are 15 U.S. cities with access to the tool, and the plan is to expand that to over 100 new cities, including Sydney. Search On also showcased how some cities having been using the tool.
Tree Canopy Insights uses aerial imagery and AI to identify places in a city that are at the greatest risk of experiencing rapidly rising temperatures.
“With Tree Canopy data, local governments have free access to insights about where to plant trees to increase shade, reduce heat and mitigate these adverse effects,” Google says.
Democratising Access To An Address
Google is also helping governments and NGOs provide addresses to people and businesses.
“Several billion people still don’t have an address, making it difficult to do things many people take for granted, like voting, opening a bank account, applying for a job or simply getting a package delivered,” Google said during Search On.
“With our new free Address Maker app, these organisations can now use our open-source system called Plus Codes to create unique, functioning addresses at scale, right from an Android app.”
Previously, creating addresses for an entire town or village could take years. Address Maker shortens this time to as little as a few weeks.
Search On, Literally
Building on its existing capability that provides details about a website before you visit it, Google will be expanding its info panels to help you learn more about the sources and topics you find on Search.
When you tap the three dots on any search result, you’ll be able to learn more about the page. You can see more information about the source, find what others have said about a site and learn more about the topic.
MUM’s The Word
Earlier this year, Google announced reaching a milestone for understanding information with Multitask Unified Model, or MUM.
“We’ve been experimenting with using MUM’s capabilities to make our products more helpful and enable entirely new ways to search,” Google said on Thursday, sharing a look at what will be possible with MUM at Search On.
In the coming months, Google will also introduce a new way to search visually, with the ability to ask questions about what you see.
Redesigning The Search Page
Google also used Search On to share how it will be applying AI advances like MUM to redesign Google Search.
“These new features are the latest steps we’re taking to make searching more natural and intuitive,” Google says.
“In the future, MUM will unlock deeper insights you might not have known to search for — like “how to make acrylic paintings with household items” — and connect you with content on the web that you wouldn’t have otherwise found.”
Related Topics Now Pinned In Vids
Currently, you can see key moments in videos, such as the winning try in a footy game, but Google is pushing its AI further.
It is now introducing a new experience that identifies related topics in a video, with links to easily dig deeper and learn more.
Making Your Online Shopping Addiction Easier
Also announced at Search On was updates to how you shop.
Starting soon, iOS users will see a new button in the Google app to make all the images on a page searchable through Google Lens.
Google is also bringing Lens to Chrome on desktop.
“Soon, you will be able to select images, video and text content on a website with Lens to quickly see search results in the same tab — without leaving the page you’re on,” Google explains.
In addition, you will also a visual feed of what you’ve Googled in various colours and styles, alongside other info like local shops, style guides and videos.
“From there, you can easily filter your search by style, department, brand and more – and when you find something you like, you can check out ratings, reviews and even compare prices to get the best deal,” Google says.
This new experience is powered by Google’s Shopping Graph, a real-time dataset of products, inventory and merchants with more than 24 billion listings.
Probably the most helpful is the ability to now filter by ‘in stock’ from Google.
And that’s everything Google announced this morning during Search On.