This week in search 1/15/10

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.

From mobile search to books, the first days of 2010 have brought some exciting new innovations. But most importantly, the global community rallied online to help support victims of the tragic earthquake in Haiti.

Searching to support Haiti
On January 12th, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, causing massive devastation. Throughout the week, we saw queries from Google users searching for information, resources and ways they could help. In fact, on January 12th, 4 of our 5 fastest rising queries were related to the earthquake. And it's not too late to help join in on the recovery efforts mobilizing around the world — a donation can help rebuild lives and communities. For more information on ways you can help, visit Google's Crisis Response page. Google has also pledged to help organizations provide relief with a donation of $1 million. Our hearts go out to the people of Haiti and their families.

Flu Trends
Back in 2008, we launched Google Flu Trends, which uses aggregated Google search data to estimate flu activity. Over time, we've found that certain search terms are good indicators of flu activity. This week we were excited to announce that we're taking flu trends one step further, with city level flu estimates in 121 cities in the U.S. With flu season upon us, Flu Trends is now an even greater resource that can help provide early detection of flu activity. Find out more about our announcement here.

Near Me Now for mobile
Need to find a nearby restaurant, coffee shop or bar on the fly — or maybe an ATM or bank? This past week, we launched "Near Me Now" on in the U.S. for Android-powered devices and iPhone. By using your phone's location information, searching for nearby places is now easier and faster. With just a few clicks you can easily check out customer reviews, quickly jump to a map to help you get there or call the business. For more information about this exciting launch, check out this post from the mobile team.

Optimized search suggestions using your location
Typing your query into a search box on a phone can sometimes be slow and difficult. Now, when using your Android-powered device or iPhone in the U.S., searching with Google just got a whole lot better. You'll now see customized search suggestions based on your current or last location. For example, if you are in Boston, a query beginning with "R-E" will return a suggestion for "Red Sox" among others. For more information on how to ensure that this new feature is enabled on your phone, check out the mobile team's announcement.

Samsung E-Reader
At last week's annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, hundreds of exciting products were announced. In partnership with Google, Samsung launched two e-reader devices that make it very easy to read any of Google's million-plus public domain books. Two models were launched: the E6, with a six-inch screen, and the E101, with a 10-inch display.

Thanks for reading, and as always, we'll see you back here next week.