Google Thinks It’s Hip To Be Squared


Google finds itself adding more features to its lineup in the face of increased search competition from companies such as Microsoft, which recently released its own new search engine, Bing

Google released Google Squared, its application for ordering search results into a spreadsheet-like “square,” on 4 June.

The application seems designed to join a broader move in search toward presenting structured data in response to a query, instead of the traditional page of blue hyperlinks. Indeed, other search engines have crowded into the space: Wolfram Alpha, the specialised search engine that made its debut on 18 May, earned a great deal of media attention for its structuring of results into easy-to-read tables.

Google has been integrating an increasing number of tools into its core search offerings in order to better maintain its market-share lead over Yahoo and Microsoft, which launched Bing, a new search engine, on 1 June.

Google had previously announced Google Squared at its annual Searchology event on 12 May, along with a selection of other upcoming search products, including Google Search Options and a Google Android application called Sky Map.

Marissa Mayer, vice president of Search and User Experience for Google, introduced Google Squared at Searchology by saying that it would take “unstructured information and present it in a structured way.” The subsequent demo showed that a search for “small dogs” would create a table listing information such as size and breeds. At the event, Mayer suggested that the application would roll out at the beginning of June.

The widely released version of Google Squared varies little from the original demo.

“Google Squared is an experimental search tool that collects facts from the web and presents them in an organised collection, similar to a spreadsheet,” Alex Komoroske, associate product manager for Google Squared, said in a 3 June corporate blog posting accompanying the release. “If you search for [roller coasters], Google Squared builds a square with rows for each of several specific roller coasters and columns for corresponding facts, such as image, height and maximum speed.”

However, the user might need to engage in a little back-and-forth to nail the result they’re looking for.

“This technology is by no means perfect,” Komoroske cautioned. “That’s why we designed Google Squared to be conversational, enabling you to respond to the initial result and get a better answer.”

To that end, Google Squared also allows rows and columns to be added or removed, and then responds dynamically to those changes by suggesting additional rows and columns to add that will potentially refine a search.

Released under the umbrella of Google Labs, Google Squared can be found here.

Google maintains its lead in the search-engine arena with 64.2 percent of the U.S. core search-engine market in April 2009, according to a ComScore report, while Yahoo held second place at 20.4 percent, and Microsoft came in third with 8.2 percent.