Google has come a long way since it started as a research project in 1996, and it may only be just getting started. The company posted a video and timeline that highlight the evolution of Google and hint at what to expect from the search engine giant in the future.
The video, called “The Evolution of Search in Six Minutes,” is a follow-up clip from one that Google posted earlier this year that shared the methodology behind search ranking and evaluation.
“Our goal is to get you to the answer you’re looking for faster and faster, creating a nearly seamless connection between your questions and the information you seek,” said Ben Gomes, Google Fellow via a Google Blog post. “That means you don’t generally need to know about the latest search feature in order to take advantage of it— simply type into the box as usual and find the answers you’re looking for.”
But it wasn’t always so simple. From making the web easy to navigate through an overwhelming amount of content to getting ads up on the site, the video touches on how Google morphed into what it is today.
On September 11, 2001, Google users were searching for “New York Twin Towers,” but the results had nothing relevant to the tragic events of the day, according to Google Fellow Amit Singhal: “Our index was crawled a month earlier and of course there was no news in that index,” Singhal said in the video. “We placed links to all of the news organizations such as CNN right on our front page, saying please visit those sites to get the news of the day because our search is failing you.”
Google knew that if it could crawl news quickly and provide multiple viewpoints about the same story to users, the results could be dynamic. That was the birth of Google News.
The timeline also highlights the implementation of Universal Search, which returns results such as images, videos and news, in addition to basic web pages. The company later introduced Quick Answers at the top of the page for a wide variety of topics, including flight times, sports scores and weather.
Google said it remains focused on developing faster ways to search and save time, whether its shaving seconds off searches with Google Instant or helping users search from their phones with Voice Search.
“Our users need much more complex answers,” Singhal said. “My dream has always been to build the Star Trek computer. I would be able to walk up to a computer and say, ‘Hey, what is the best time for me to sow seeds in India given that monsoon was early this year?’ People will be looking for answers to more complex questions.’”
Although the company didn’t shed too much light on the future of search, there’s a good chance it could look very different moving forward.
“If the past is any indication, we don’t know what search will look like in 2020, but we wouldn’t be surprised if it looks nothing like it does today,” Gomes said.
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