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Google serves up brace of slightly skewed search tools

George Bush and Elvis Presley together at last

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Google announced two more new tools – Similar Images and Google News Timeline – for its growing online Labs project yesterday.

Similar Images narrows down a search via Google Images to pictures that look similar to the chosen result, while Google News Timeline takes a search topic and arranges the results chronologically on a scrollable timeline.

Mountain View’s latest experimental tools are exactly that, however, and the result sometimes brings up skewed searches.

For example, if you put Elvis Presley into the Timeline tool, the results returned include any mention of the late be-quiffed, hamburger-munching King.

So former President George Bush’s post-Whitehouse trip to China is featured in the search simply because Presley’s hometown of Memphis is mentioned in the linked Associated Press story.

Similar Images, which relies heavily on colour recognition to determine the correct results, also coughs up a few anomalies from a quick search of various celebrities.

If you put in a search of black and white images of Tom Jones, for example, the result not only gives you pictures of the hairy-chested, knicker-loving one, but also images of Tom Jones the movie, which was made in 1963 and stars Albert Finney.

Or, if you search for b&w images of ex-pres Bush you are also served results that give you pictures of the ex-ex-ex-president George Bush Senior, as well as photos of W apparently eating a kitten and wearing a pair of rather large pants.

But the tools are fun to play around with, even if they’re not entirely reliable or accurate right now. Google, this time, can well and truly justify the beta tag for these new Labs search playthings. ®

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