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Google revamps search on the desktop, adds new Google Now cards

Google's voice search is about to get a whole lot better on the desktop Chrome browser, bringing Google Now-like functionality to the table. Meanwhile, Google Now is also introducing new cards for content suggestions, transportation updates and setting reminders.
May 15, 2013

From Hangouts to Google Play Games, there is one theme that seemed prevalent throughout the I/O keynote: Cross-platform functionality.

Google seems to be breaking away the chains that separate us on different devices, making a more seamless experience regardless of whether we are using an Android device, a PC or the browser.

The same idea applies to Google search. Google Now is continuing to spread its way onto different devices (at least in limited form), including iOS, Android devices, Google Glasses and now even the desktop.

The desktop has had voice search for a while now, so what makes this change so special? In a word, conversational language support.

Let’s say you are planning a trip to Las Vegas from San Francisco. You have already used Chrome voice search to research things to do on your trip, now you need to figure out how long it will take to get there. You don’t need to say something complicated like “How long will it take to get from [current city] to Las Vegas”. Instead, you can simply say, “How far is it from here?”

Google already knows what you are talking about. Chrome understands the “it” is Vegas and the “here” is San Francisco.

The Chrome browser voice functionality also makes it possible to quickly send emails, make calendar entries and even pull up flight information. This isn’t the full “Google Now” experience found on Jelly Bean, but it is a major leap forward nonetheless. Expect these new search features to roll out within the coming weeks.

In addition to the changes to Chrome browser search, Google Knowledge Graph is also expanding, allowing it to try to predict your next question and add related statistics to graphs. Google Graph is also adding support for Polish, Turkish, Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese.


Google Now gets new cards

It’s not just the Chrome browser that is seeing changes to the way we search.

Google Now is getting a new recommended content alert card, displaying suggestions for upcoming books, music, games and TV shows. The better Google Now knows you, the more accurate the card suggestions for this multimedia content will be.

Google is also adding real-time public transportation updates for select cities, and Japan is even getting a “last train home” card.

Last but not least, a new Google Now card adds the ability to set reminders based on time, location and even specific contacts. For example, you could remind Google Now to tell you to call a business contact on a specific date, after you arrive in town from your flight — all using natural language.

With Google’s latest efforts, search is about to become a heck of a lot more personal. What do you think of the new changes to Google Now and to Chrome for the desktop? Excited?