Google Adds Travel Tools

Google added more weapons to its query cache this week, rolling out tools that allow users to access travel updates and search by numbers for information on shipment tracking, patents, and vehicle identification, for example.

Using the new search by number feature, Net users looking to track packages can now enter a United Parcel Service of America, FedEx, or U.S. Postal Service tracking number into the Google query bar to locate their goods.

Users can also search by patents, Federal Airline Aviation airline registration numbers, bar codes, and telephone area codes, according to information posted to the company's Web site this week.

Google has also added new travel-related tools, allowing users to check the status of U.S. flights by typing a flight number into the query bar, or check the weather at a particular airport by entering the airport's three-letter code and the word "airport."

Staying on Top

The new features are just the latest in a series of tools introduced by the Mountain View, California, company in recent months, as it fights to stay on top of the competitive search market while it also prepares for a possible initial public offering.

As Google has continued to expand its service with features such as news alerts, calculator functions, and price comparison shopping tools, rivals including Yahoo have also been working to stay in the search game. Yahoo, for example, updated its search engine and introduced new features, such as a product search.

Google is still considered the market leader, however, and its possible IPO is expected to be one of the largest in Internet history, with some estimating that it will rake in any where from $15 billion to $25 billion.

Google says that it processes more than 200 million search queries a day and boasts an index of over 3 billion Web pages.

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