By Harry McCracken | Friday, December 11, 2009 at 11:57 am
It’s been an uncommonly busy week for Google search. On Monday, the company unveiled its new real-time search feature and Google Goggles visual search. Now it’s ending the week with two additional meaningful new features. (And hey, it celebrated Popeye on its home page in between.)
New feature #1: Google Suggest, the feature that starts providing possible queries as you type, now provides possible answers in some cases.
The feature in its current form is fairly limited: It includes ten types of information (weather, flight status, local time, area codes, package tracking, answers, definitions, calculator, currency, and unit conversions) and is only smart enough to figure out what you’re typing with certain phrasings of questions. (It seems to work best if you use as few words as possible rather than typing in wordy questions.) But at its best, it’s kind of eerie–Google gives you answers while you’re still typing.
New feature #2 is only for folks running the beta of Chrome 4 for Windows, but it’s also neat: It’s Quick Scroll, which auto-scrolls to sections of Web pages relevant to queries you’ve searched for–once you’ve clicked off Google onto a site in the results.
Quick Scroll is clever and useful. It’s interesting, though, to see it debuting as a Chrome extension–even though vastly more folks could take advantage of its goodness if it was a Firefox one. Google’s blog post on the new features doesn’t mention if the company plans to make it more widely available, but this is the most recent evidence that Google is starting to favor its own products in a way it hadn’t in the past.