What you need to know
- Google will provide an "AI-powered snapshot" in its travel and shopping search results in Search Labs.
- The generative AI will provide specific answers on landmarks or tourist destinations based on web scraping and user-generated Google data.
- Search Labs is a separate app from Google Search, and is currently only available in the U.S. in English after signing up for a waitlist.
Anyone who watched Google I/O 2023 will remember the intense focus on AI-generated search results. Turns out we didn't have too long to wait for the tricks on stage to make it onto our phones. Google has announced new Search Labs "capabilities" that'll help you with your travel plans and shopping needs.
Google VP of Search, Rany Ng, explained in a blog post that with the updated Search Labs, "you might ask if a certain restaurant is good for large groups or whether they’re vegetarian-friendly," and it'll generate specific results to answer that question without having to search through links.
Search Labs' generative AI-powered experience (SGE) can also tell you "when people recommend visiting a particular landmark, so you can avoid the crowds," Ng suggested.
Essentially, this Google Search beta will try to pull from both SEO-generated results and Google's user responses to act as a tourist guide without having to dive into links to find answers to your questions. Of course, since it's done by a generative AI, we'll have to wait and see how accurate it is.
In addition to travel and restaurant results, you can also get "relevant reviews and ratings, up-to-date prices and product images" if you ask about the best product in a specific category like Android phones or Bluetooth speakers, across "35 billion" product results.
We're not certain how many topics Search Labs' generative AI specializes in, and what future "capabilities" Google has in store to make it more accurate on other topics.
The generative AI is in direct competition with ChatGPT, which has been directly incorporated into Bing Search results. At the moment, Google's generative AI is only available through the Search Labs beta.
To sign up at this link, you'll need to live in the United States and have a Google account. You'll see the Labs icon when you open the Google app on iOS or Android, or when you open a new Chrome tab; but you'll have to wait until you're taken off the waitlist before you can access it.
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Michael spent years freelancing on every tech topic under the sun before settling down on the real exciting stuff: virtual reality, fitness wearables, gaming, and how tech intersects with our world. He's a semi-reformed Apple-to-Android user who loves running, D&D, and Star Wars. Find him on Twitter at @Michael_L_Hicks.