Google ups speed limit on information superhighway

June 14, 2011 7:47:02 PM PDT
Google is putting the squeeze on Yahoo and Bing, promising to provide the fastest search results yet. And with the new technology come some new features as well.

Nobody wants to wait when you're in a hurry for information. Google's speeding up how fast a web page loads by pre-loading it as the search engine predicts what you want.

"It's a new technology in Chrome that allows a site when it's very confident that it knows what result the users will want to go ahead and say start downloading that early," Google product manager Alex Komoroske said.

That means the page appears almost instantly, compared to the average speed of five seconds.

Instant Pages will be available in Google's Chrome browser. Other browsers might feature it later.

Ever wonder where a photo was taken? Another new feature is called "Search by Image." Upload a photo, or simply drag and drop it in the search field, and similar photos will appear with the location. Google says it will not save your photo, nor will it use photo recognition technology on anyone in the shot.

Technology analyst David Needle says watchdogs will be on the lookout for any breach in privacy.

"Now that they're rolling this out, we'll have to see how that plays out and you know that the privacy people will be on them every step of the way to keep them honest," Needle said.

It took a team of several hundred product and software engineers to develop these new features. They see a dramatic rise in search on mobile devices -- five times greater than two years ago.

Google also will make voice searches available on desktops. It is already offered on mobile devices.

"We keep improving Google's user experience doing the right thing for our users and users assume that's how it should be and they want more," Google fellow Amit Singhal, PhD, said.

The new features will also raise the competitive bar for rivals Yahoo and Bing.

Some of the features are available now, while others will roll out in the weeks ahead. You'll have to do your own search to see what will be available when.

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