This week in search 12/11/09

This is part of a regular series of posts on search experience updates that runs on Fridays. Look for the label This week in search and subscribe to the series. - Ed.

What a busy week for Google! From the launch of real time, to the addition of universal search features in Suggest, searching on Google just got a whole lot better this week.

Real-time search
Want to know what people are saying about [google chrome] right now? Or maybe you're wondering if things can get any worse for [tiger]? With Google's real-time search, you can find out what's happening right now. Once you've entered a query, you can also click on "Latest results" or select "Latest" in the Search Options menu for a full page of the latest web, blogs, news and updates. You can also restrict your results to "Updates" mode which shows only short form content from our partners that we announced on Monday, which will include Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, FriendFeed, Jaiku and Finally, you can also check out the common topics people are publishing to the web in real-time by going to the "Hot Topics" section in Google Trends. Real-time search is live worldwide in English, and is available on mobile too from and on Android and iPhone.

Check out the video from our real-time search announcement here.

Universal search features in Suggest
Google Suggest learned a new trick this week, or rather 10 of them. To save time and keystrokes, we now show universal search features in Suggest for a range of straightforward questions, including ones for: weather, flight status, local time, area codes, package tracking, answers, definitions, calculator, unit conversions, and currency conversions. So the next time you start searching on Google for [weather in wichita], the [alaska area code], or look to [define dichotomy], chances are you won't even need to hit enter to see the answer. Though these features are available for users in English so far, we're working hard to expand them to our international users.

Google Similar Pages beta on the Chrome extensions gallery
Ever find yourself enjoying the webpage you're looking at, but curious to discover other pages similar to it? Or trying to find more pages about a topic, but struggling to come up with the right query? We certainly do, which is why we're excited to introduce the Google Similar Pages beta Chrome extension to help do just that. We use the same data for this as for the "Similar" link you see next to web search results, which you may have seen next to the Cached link for many web search results. But this Chrome extension is portable -- so you can use it to see similar page wherever you are on the web, not just on the Google search results page.

Quick Scroll on the Chrome extensions gallery
This week we released a Chrome extension called Google Quick Scroll. Once installed, this tool lets you use Google's search capabilities even after leaving our results page. For some queries, after you click on a result and the page you're visiting is done loading, the Quick Scroll panel will pop up in the lower right corner of your screen. The panel highlights the most relevant content on the page, based on what you just searched for on Clicking one of the bits of text in the panel will scroll you directly to that part of the page. This should save you from scrolling around or using Control-F to manually hunt for the relevant content on the page. The Quick Scroll panel won't appear for all queries or results; it'll only pop up when we think that relevant content for your search is buried down the page or hard to find.

After you've installed the tool, try these example queries and results:
[does flap of butterfly wings affect weather] - click on result from
[visiting berber villages in morocco] - click on result from
[evidence universe expands and contracts] - click on result from

Google Quick Scroll, like all extensions, requires the Beta version of Chrome 4, and can be installed from the Chrome Extensions Gallery here.

More Transit information in search results
We know a lot of people rely on public transit to get where they're going, and we want to make it even easier for you to find the right stop for your travels. Starting this week, when you search for local businesses in cities where public transit is popular, we'll show you nearby public transit stops in the map appearing at the top of your results. For example, if you wanted to visit [heidelberg nyc], we now show you that it's near the 86th Street station. If you were in Germany, you might want to take the tram to the National Theater stop for [hofbrauhaus munich]. Clicking on the station name will take you to Google Maps with your query and the transit stop highlighted, so that you can easily get full directions.

Stay tuned for more great posts for the remainder of 2009!