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Google widens search net and takes on Siri with iOS app

iOS speech search and adding Gmail results

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Google is moving closer to a planned search singularity with the extension of the Knowledge Graph system, a trial to allow personal Gmail search results to be included in generic web searches, and an iOS app that takes voice requests and tries to answer.

Knowledge Graph, launched in May for English-speaking users of Google, uses the Chocolate Factory's massive database of searches to find semantic links between search terms. It has linked 500 million people and places with 3.5 billion attributes or connections, which are used to derive possible search results.

Where the user is looking for a list or group of subjects, Google has also added a ribbon of pictures across the top of the browser window that could be of interest. These can be clicked on to generate a new set of search results.

Google has also opened up a trial where signed-in Google users can search their Gmail accounts in the general search page. In tests it is pretty accurate and not too scary, and doesn't display matches automatically, or expose every single email on a topic.

Gmail search

A bit personal, but only if you ask (click to enlarge)

Finally, Google is taking on Siri with a Google Search iOS application, which uses its speech recognition engine to process verbal searches and, if possible, speaks the results back to you. We haven't seen it in action but this sounds like an attempt at Siri, Apple's search agent that is both loved and hated.

"It’s very much like the computer I dreamt about as a child growing up in India, glued to our black-and-white TV for every episode of Star Trek," said Google senior vice president, Amit Singhal, as Google launched the upgrades in an event at San Francisco.

"I imagined a future where a starship computer would be able to answer any question I might ask, instantly. Today, we’re closer to that dream than I ever thought possible during my working life." ®

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