Google unveiled conversational search at Google I/O last week, and began rolling it out on the latest version of Chrome this week.
Today, I chatted with Google to ask it burning questions like, “How many children does Madonna have?” and “What’s the meaning of life?” While Google doesn’t quite have the latter down just yet, it was able to comment on the matter, at least superficially (try it and see).
The “OK Google” search prompt we heard about at I/O isn’t available yet, so we still have that extra click in the process. To strike up a conversation with Google in the new version of Chrome, turn up the volume on your computer, click on the microphone, and ask away.
The feature is still working out bugs, and just like any search, using the information available to it on the Web. Often, Google displays its answer to the question in the form of “cards” at the top of search results while it relays the information verbally.
Depending on the way you ask the question, the search results below the card change, just like a regular ol’ typed query. Here are the results to the question, “Who are Madonna’s kids?”:
And here are the results to the question, “How many children does Madonna have?”:
Also, Google might be lazy. When answering my Madonna question verbally, Google named two of the four children, and simply said “and others” for the rest.
Some reports show Google is able to interpret and respond to a series of questions, even if nouns aren’t used.
For example, if a user asks, “How many children does Madonna have?”, and in a subsequent search, asks, “Where does she live?”, Google should be able to answer both, understanding that Madonna is the subject of the latter question. I wasn’t able to experience that in my searches.
Experimenting with searches reveals much. When editing this article, I had a question about punctuation, so I thought I’d ask Google. I asked, “Do you put a comma after a question mark?”
Google interpreted the words for punctuation into actual punctuation, and searched for the following, which didn’t produce the results I was looking for:
I played with some local search questions, too, like: “Are there cupcakes in San Diego?”, to which Google replied: “There are several listings for cupcakes near San Diego,” and then showed me local search results.
Thanks, Google, for making searches a little sweeter.
Have you tried conversational search? Discovered anything interesting? Tell us about it!