By Harry McCracken | Tuesday, July 20, 2010 at 11:31 am
At a press event at its San Francisco offices this morning, Google unveiled a new version of Google Images, with the biggest revision the company has given the image search engine’s interface in a very long time. (Google Images launched in 2001 with an index of 250 million images; today it’s got 10 billion of ’em.)
The new look is a lot more modern and, well…visual than the old one. Here are the highlights:
Bigger pictures, fewer words. Results pages are now all about the images–the thumbnails are bigger, and most of the textual information–such as the link to similar images–isn’t there. (If you hover over an image, you get the information which formerly appeared on the standard results page.)
A new preview page. You can now preview both the image at full size and the page it came from without leaving Google Image Search, thanks to a full-size preview that appears overlaid on a cached version of the originating page.
“Infinite” scrolling. Rather than making you page through images a few at a time, you can just keep scrolling–through up to a thousand thumbnails on one page. (This matches a feature which Microsoft’s Bing Images already has.(
Here’s my shaky video of a single page of results in the new Image Search:
Image ads. Google already put ads in Images search results, but it’s now offering marketers a new ad type designed specifically for image searches. (For one thing, all ads will have images themselves.)
As before, Images packs all sorts of smarts for producing relevant images, plus filters that let you refine the results. Here are results which include only images of black horses:
At the event, Google executives stressed that the makeover was in the works for so long in part because they wanted to make it easy and fast. I’ve only used it within Google’s firewall so far, but it does feel slick and responsive–the infinite scrolling, for instance, involved less waiting for images to update than Bing’s version.
A serious comparison with the competition will I can try the publicly-available new Google Images. Shouldn’t be too long: Google says that about ten percent of users are already seeing it, and it should completely replace the old version later this week. If you already have access to it, let us know–and tell us what you think.