We receive today a press release from Google. If you are curious please read it. If not, just skip it.

Google today announced its critical first steps toward a universal search model that will offer users a more integrated and comprehensive way to search for and view information online. The company also introduced an updated homepage design and several new navigation features that make it faster and easier for users to find the information they are looking for.

“Our focus has always been making our users’ search experience as simple and straightforward as possible,” said Marissa Mayer, vice president of search products and user experience at Google. “The ultimate goal of universal search is to break down the silos of information that exist on the web and provide the very best answer every time a user enters a query. While we still have a long way to go, today’s announcements are a big step in that direction.”

Google’s vision for universal search is to ultimately search across all its content sources, compare and rank all the information in real time, and deliver a single, integrated set of search results that offers users precisely what they are looking for. Beginning today, the company will incorporate information from a variety of previously separate sources – including videos, images, news, maps, books, and websites – into a single set of results. At first, universal search results may be subtle. Over time users will recognize additional types of content integrated into their search results as the company advances toward delivering a truly comprehensive search experience.

For example, a user searching for information on the Star Wars character Darth Vader is likely interested in all the information related to the character and the actor – not just web pages that mention the movie. Google will now deliver a single set of blended search results that include a humorous parody of the movie, images of the Darth Vader character, news reports on the latest Lucas film, as well as websites focused on the actor James Earl Jones – all ranked in order of relevance to the query. Users no longer have to visit several different Google search properties to find such a wide array of information on the topic.

The Power of Google Technology
Google is also in the process of deploying a new technical infrastructure that will enable the search engine to handle the computationally intensive tasks required to produce universal search results. The company is also releasing the first stage of an upgraded ranking mechanism that automatically and objectively compares different types of information. As always, Google™ search results are ranked automatically by algorithms to deliver the best results to users anywhere in the world.

“Google has continued to concentrate on improving the quality of search,” said Udi Manber, vice president of engineering at Google.
“The level and speed of search innovation at Google has increased.
Most of this innovation addresses basic ranking algorithms and is often not obvious to users. Users just see more accurate results, more often, in more languages, which is our primary goal.”

New Navigation Features
New dynamically generated navigation links have been added above the search results to suggest additional information that is relevant to a user’s query. For example, a search for “python” will now generate links to Google Blog Search™, Google Book Search™, Google Groups™, and Google Code™, to let the user know there is additional information on his or her query in each of those areas. As a result, users can find a wider array of information on their topic, including data types they might not have initially considered.

Google’s homepage and a number of applications have also been updated with a new navigation bar to provide easier access to popular Google products. Now, instead of having links above the Google.com homepage search box, users will see a navigation bar on the top left side of the page with various Google search properties and popular products including Gmail™, Google Calendar™, Google Docs & Spreadsheets™, and Picasa Web Albums™.

Experience the Experiments
Google also announced today a new experimental version of its popular search service called Google Experimental™, available on Google Labs™.
This new test site provides users an opportunity to try out some of the latest search experiments and innovations and provide Google with feedback. One of the first experiments to be featured on the site enables users to view their search results on a map or timeline. For instance, when someone searches for “Albert Einstein” on Google Experimental, they can choose to view the search results on a map that shows locations mentioned within web pages about Albert Einstein or on a timeline that illustrates the history of Albert Einstein’s life.
More information on Google Experimental search is available at Google Labs at http://labs.google.com.

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