Google Search turns 20 this year. And while Google was just a search engine in 1998, these days it’s also the home to YouTube, Gmail, Google Maps, the Chrome web browser (and operating system) and Android, among other things.
But the company still has a search engine that you may use from time to time… and today Google is announcing some major changes to Search. It’s not just a white screen with a text box and a cute logo anymore.
OK, it hasn’t been just that in a long time. But it looks like you can expect a lot more multimedia and interactive content in your search results in the future.
First up, the Google Feed is getting a redesign and a new name. When you use Google on a mobile device, you’ll see a series of cards below the search box or when you swipe left on the home screen (if your launcher supports the feature). That used to be called Feed. Now it’s called Discover.
Google is adding topic headers above cards to give you a better idea of why they’re showing up. in the discover section. You can tap one of those headers to see more items related to the topic. And if you want to keep seeing similar content, you can tap the Follow button to customize your experience.
You can also let Google know if you want to see more or less of a certain topic.
The Discover section will also start showing “evergreen” content which may not be new, but which Google thinks you may be interested in, and which you may not have previously seen.
Discover is also bringing multi-lingual support, starting with English and Spanish. If you tend to read the news in Spanish, but everything else in English, Google will take note and deliver appropriate suggestions.
Finally, Google is moving Discover beyond the Google app: soon you’ll see it when you visit Google.com in a web browser on your phone.
Google is also introducing some new features to help you keep track of things you’ve already searched for.
For example, there’s a new activity card that will show related sites you’ve already visited when you enter when you enter a relevant search term. So if you searched for something last week, found a really useful website, but forgot to bookmark it, Google can make it a little easier to find without the need to start scanning through your search history or browser history manually.
You can also add content from an activity card to a Collection, basically creating a scrapbook of relevant content. Google will also recommend related content.
Google is making several changes to Google Images searches. The search engine will prioritize images from pages with better content — so if you click through to the page, the image you searched for will be easy to find and it may be surrounded by relevant information. If you searched for cookie recipes and found a picture of fresh baked cookies, you’d probably expect a recipe if you clicked through to the website, for example.
The search results page will also provide more information about the website including captions with the title of the page to help you know more before you click.
Google Lens is also coming to the mobile version of Google Images. Previously the feature was available in Google Photos and the camera app on some smartphones, letting Google analyze a picture to identify landmarks, animals, and other objects and provide information from search results.
Now Google Lens will let you analyze pictures found through Google Images and see other related images with link to websites with more information (or purchase links).
Google rolled out its answer to Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook stories earlier this year. It leverages Google’s AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) technology and it’s, unsurprisingly, called AMP Stories. Now Google is starting to use AI to create AMP stories automatically, and it will offer them up for some searches.
I’m not sure how useful this format will be for users, but it certainly seems like a way for Google to help keep you on their site. But it doesn’t look too hard to avoid: don’t click on a story and it won’t open in full screen mode.
Google is also adding featured videos to search results, allowing you to watch some videos without leaving the Google search experience.