Google unveils a new way to search


Google announced on Thursday two new AI tools that it says will make searching for things online “radically more helpful.”


Mobile users accessing Google on some Android phones will soon be able to circle or highlight items that appear on their smartphone screens to populate more information, and ask complicated or nuanced questions about an image or text.


The company said it’s been quietly testing the tools to see how generative AI, the technology that underpins viral chatbots including ChatGPT, can make Search more personalized and intuitive since last year.


The features were first teased during Samsung’s Unpacked event earlier this week and will come to the Galaxy S24 smartphone lineup launching later this month. It will also launch on a handful of other high-end Android smartphones, including the Pixel 8 and the Pixel 8 Pro, starting January 3.


The first feature, called Circle to Search, allows Android users to circle, tap, highlight or scribble on pictures, videos or text to learn more about what they see, such as a landmark in the back of someone’s social media page.


In addition, starting Thursday, people will be able to point their mobile camera (or upload a photo or screenshot) and ask a question via the Google app to get information. Google gave the example of coming across an unfamiliar board game at a yard sale, and asking the tool about how the game is played.


Over the years, Google has made changes to Search such as enabling search-by-voice or its Lens tool, which uses image recognition technology through a smartphone’s cameras to learn more about the world around them.


Google’s AI play highlights a greater push across the tech industry as big tech companies, including Microsoft, Amazon, Meta and others, race to deploy similar technologies.


“We’ve only just scratched the surface of what’s possible,” the company said in a press release.

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