While Google is still by far the most dominant search engine on the Web, it can't afford to rest on its laurels with Microsoft constantly adding new features to its Bing search engine. At Google's 'Inside Search' event, the company has announced several new features designed to ensure it stays on top of the lucrative search engine game. Users will now be able to search using images, enter search terms by voice and have the top search results pre-rendered so they appear instantly.
Google Goggles has been letting users conduct searches based on pictures taken on mobile devices since 2009 and now Search by Image brings the same functionality to the desktop. Users can drag and drop an image from the Web or stored locally on their computer over the Google search box and Google will try and identify it and bring up relevant results. Users can also Search by Image by copying and pasting an image URL or uploading an image by clicking on the camera icon in the search box. Google is also releasing extensions for Chrome and Firefox browsers that will let users search an image on the web by right-clicking on it.
The company says it is rolling out the feature globally in 40 languages now, but it doesn't look to have been activated in my neck of the woods yet so I wasn't able to put it the test by attempting to identify the location of my holiday snaps. If you point your browser to images.google.com and see a camera icon in the search box, however, you should be good to go.
Another feature making its way from mobile devices to the desktop is Voice Search. The feature is limited to Chrome 11 or higher users who will see a microphone icon in the search box. Users can click on the icon and speak their search - provided their computer has a built-in or attached microphone.
Also revealed at 'Inside Search' is Instant Pages, which is basically an evolutionary step of its Instant Search feature introduced last year that provides search results as you type. To speed up things even further, Instant Pages will pre-render the top search result in the background so it will appear instantly when clicked. Instant Pages will be included in the next beta release of Chrome but can be tried now with the developer version.
Check out the videos below for examples of the new Google features.