Google’s search engine has remained relatively unchanged for decades. With the advent of AI, look for that to change—and you can test the new-look Search today.
Google Search’s familiar interface, with a search box and a list of responses, is being overhauled to look more like Microsoft Bing’s chatbot now does, with AI stepping in to provide supplementary information it never offered before. (In Bing, you can perform a “traditional” search, with a list of links and a Bing Chat box to the side; you can also conduct the search entirely within the Bing Chat interface by selecting Chat from a list of options, or scrolling / swiping up on the Bing Search page).
Google is trying something a bit different with its updated search engine, bringing in recommendations as well as facts. Searching for a “good bike for a 5 mile route with hills,” will interpret that result with bikes with a good suspension and tires, built on Google’s Shopping graph.
Want a follow-up? Google will offer a conversational mode as well, with follow-up queries and other search results. Supplementary results in a sidebar can show you which merchants have the bike in stock and what their policies are.
Mark Hachman / IDG
The search function will appear on mobile and in a conversational interface, too, knowing previous queries.
Google also showed off a quick snapshot of the future such as bulleted responses, more images, integrated videos, and sophisticated queries that included comparisons and deep knowledge, including restaurant menus.
Mark Hachman / IDG
Google said that it’s using an updated PaLM 2 model as its foundation, driving both Google Search as well as its Bard chatbot. The demonstration also revealed a more subtle change: Google Search looks like it will be a front door to Bard, so that a “search” will now appear more like a conversation.
Want to try it out? You can tap the labs icon (the small flask icon) in either the latest version of the Google app or the Chrome desktop. That will put you on the waitlist, where you’ll be able to play with it at a later date. How long will that be? Well, since Bard is now open to public (goodbye, waitlist!), hopefully not long.