This week in search 5/1/10

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

This week we announced a number of new search enhancements:

Brand refinements in search results
Sometimes when searching for product information on Google, you may not know some of the brand names relevant to your particular search. For example, if you're taking on a new river-rafting hobby, it's quite likely you don't have a clue about kayak manufacturers just yet. So, we wanted to make it easier for you to find the brands other people consider useful for popular product searches. So this week we launched a search refinement that calls out brand names related to your query in a single line above the rest of the results. Determined algorithmically, these highlighted brand names may help you find what you're looking for faster, and make your research and shopping experience all the more enjoyable.

Example searches: [wedding dress], [digital camera] and [stroller]

Virtual keyboards in Google search
Typing a search query on a keyboard that is not designed for your language can be a challenging (if not impossible) process. To help overcome any difficulty you might face when using Google search in another language, starting this week you'll see a small keyboard icon next to the search field on both the Google homepage and on the search results page when using Google in one of 35 foreign languages. Check out our announcement, which includes all of the languages currently supported. We hope that this new feature will make your search experience much better!

Example keyboard search in Greek: [flowers]

"Similar" pages on results page
Here's a new feature that makes it easier to discover the variety of choices available on the web. We've offered the "Similar" link on search results for a while now as a way to find new websites similar to ones you already use and like, but it hasn't been too visible. Now, for queries where we think sites similar to the first search result might be helpful, a small block of similar sites will appear at the bottom of the results page. Clicking on the "Pages similar to" link at the start of the block will take you to the full list of similar pages.

More example searches: [american lung association], [tobacco-free kids], [earthquake info center]

New Image Search for iPhone and Android devices
When searching for images on your mobile device, speed and quantity of the images are important parts of a good experience. So we've introduced a redesigned Google Image Search for mobile, based on iPhone 3.0+ and Android 2.1 devices that makes it easier for you to see as many images as possible when searching on your mobile phone. Now, the thumbnails are square to maximize the number of images you see on the screen. In addition, you can swipe to see the next or previous page of results. And for when you want to see a larger version of an image, we've introduced a special image viewing page with black background that both emphasizes the image and includes fading buttons. We hope you enjoy!

On your iPhone or Android device, visit and search for these examples: [mount rushmore] or [lady gaga]

Mobile Place Pages
We launched Place Pages last fall to help provide relevant and informative information about places on Google Maps. We've now optimized that same experience for Android-powered devices and iPhones in the U.S., so when you're on the go, you'll be able to quickly view location information, customer ratings, hours of operation and summarized restaurant reviews. You can also get full-screen, dynamic maps to quickly help you see where the restaurant is within the neighborhood you're in.

Stay tuned for next week's post on the latest releases, enhancements and news about search.