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Google launches innovative new services and voice search

Internet users will now be able to upload old holiday snaps and find out where they were taken with a new image search function available on Google, as well as see 'instant pages' and search by voice

Google Instant Pages pre-empts what website a user will pick from a list of search results and begins collecting the page’s data, ahead of the user clicking on the link.

Amit Singhal, a Google fellow who leads search development, announced the development at Inside Search, a major Google search event in San Francisco, saying that Google Instant Pages would save users on average between three to five seconds when looking for information using the engine, as the single website Google thinks the user is most likely to click on, has been pre-loaded before the searcher clicks on it.

“Instant Pages is the next big leap for Google,” said Singhal. “It will break down big barriers in users’ quest for information. At the end of the day our job is to get the information and knowledge people need in a blink of an eye.”

Instant Pages will roll out this week in beta but is only available to those using Google Chrome.

At the event the Google search team also announced the voice search for the desktop. From today onwards people using Google search on Chrome only will be able to speak their search query into their computer’s microphone in order to retrieve their search queries.

Users will need to click on the microphone icon, which will appear imminently in the Google search engine box, in order to activate the service. The desktop service is only available in English at the moment, but will soon roll out to other languages. The Google mobile voice search works is available on 27 languages.

Mike Cohen, a manager of speech of technology, said: “I want people to be able to speak [their query] to find what they want…We want to change users’ mental model.”

He revealed that there is two years' worth of mobile speech put into Google’s system every day and added that the voice team were working hard to improve the tool’s accuracy.

Additionally the Google search team announced the launch of search by image on the desktop – which will allow users to drag and drop and image into the search engine in order to find out more about the photo.

Users can either drag and drop an image (such a personal holiday snap) straight into the Google search bar, or upload an image from their desktop or paste an image URL in order for the engine to locate any information it can about the picture.

Searching by image will be available to Chrome and Firefox users from today onwards around the world. Google takes the user’s image and breaks it down in to components, such as lines, colours and shapes, in order to figure out any the location of the shot or the identity of a building or landscape in the picture.

Singhal stressed that no facial recognition technology would be used to identify people in any photos scanned – nor would people’s personal photos, once scanned, enter into the search engine’s public index. They will however be stored for nine months in line with Google’s data storage terms.

Singhal said that the Google search team was introducing new ways of searching – via voice or image - in order to make the process as “effortless” as possible.

Google’s mobile ‘Goggles’s’ translation tool has also been extended to recognize Russian text which it scans and then auto-translates into the user’s language of choice.

Google’s mobile search site has also added icon buttons, such as ‘restaurant’ and ‘coffee’ to help give access to local information, using GPS, and speed up the return of information in particular categories.

The team also showcased some improvements to Google search’s interface on tablets – which included enlarging image search results to take advantage of tablet devices’ larger screens and the introduction of infinite scroll on picture searches.