For whatever reason, Google has been pushing some fascinating new releases and updates lately. I am not sure if this is a rush of work prior to holiday vacations or increased competition, but in any case I like what is happening in most cases.
Yesterday, Google had another batch of releases for us. First, there were 5 new features that seemed to have come out of nowhere. Marshall Kirkpatrick has a post on ReadWriteWeb that summarizes them nicely, but he has a quote that sums up my feelings as well:
Google is holding a major demo event at the Computer History Museum today and unveiled a number of incredible new features. It was the kind of event that restores a person’s faith in Google as a major innovator.
I won’t go into details with each feature, but look at what they announced:
- Near Instant Voice Translation – still a prototype product that currently provides near instant translation between English and Spanish in the cloud just by talking into your mobile phone.
- Customized Google Suggest Based On Location – Using your mobile phone location to power Google Suggest. Easily the announcement with the least “wow”.
- Product Search With Local Retailer Inventory – Mobile product search using where you are and whether stores have the product in stock.
- Near Me Now – On your mobile phone, Google will provide search categories for restaurants and stores.
- Goggles – The worst name in the list, but possibly the biggest release. Think augmented reality but powered by the vast amounts of indexed Google search data.
As if this wasn’t enough, Google decided it was time to unveil their version of real-time search. Marshall threw in a nice tip for quickly finding an example of real-time search using Google Trends. So, what is Google searching? Marshall knows that too:
Fresh search results pushed live to the search results page, with a pause button above that section of the page. Results are coming in from freshly published web pages, Tweets, MySpace updates and shockingly, Facebook public profiles.
Unsurprisingly, Google’s implementation rocks. To check how interesting it was I went to Google Trends and clicked on the hot topic “Google Goggles”. Halfway down the page, I see the real-time results embedded and dynamically updating. Yeah, try and tell me that this isn’t hot. Even if you do not agree with the potential benefits of real time search, you have to admit this is a real nice integration.
Lastly, hidden over on the Google Analytics blog is an announcement about some really cool additions to Analytics. For data and analytics geeks, this is a big release. Again, I will default to some quick bullet points as it all probably requires full posts to really get into the details:
- Annotations – You can annotate your stats if you see a dip or bump in traffic. This is a neat idea for shared accounts.
- Custom Variables in Advanced Segments – This is best described in the post, “a user can create an advanced segmentation based on any key, value, as well as key-value combination of all Custom Variables”
- Custom Variables in Custom Reports -Now you can create custom reports with your custom variables. This is really important for companies trying to track specific types of events on their pages.
- Tracking Code Setup Wizard – A simpler wizard for more complex setups like multiple sub-domains and cross domain tracking.
- New Version of the Analytics API – Advanced Segmentation will be supported through the API.
You may be wondering whether this is just a random news dump, or whether I have a point. As usual I have a point and it has taken me a while to get there.
Look at these announcements and you will see three common themes. Mobile, Local and real-time. Even the analytics release has a lot to do with these themes. Custom variables, API based segmentation and simpler tracking setup allow site owners to better track their mobile users as well as move closer to a real-time reporting environment.
Yes, Google just showed a large part of their hand for 2010. It is mobile, it is local and it is happening now.