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Google brings Search by Image and Voice Search to desktops

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June 14, 2011

Google now offers Search by Image on desktop computers

Google now offers Search by Image on desktop computers

While Google is still by far the most dominant search engine on the Web, it can't afford to rest on its laurels with Microsoft constantly adding new features to its Bing search engine. At Google's 'Inside Search' event, the company has announced several new features designed to ensure it stays on top of the lucrative search engine game. Users will now be able to search using images, enter search terms by voice and have the top search results pre-rendered so they appear instantly.

Google Goggles has been letting users conduct searches based on pictures taken on mobile devices since 2009 and now Search by Image brings the same functionality to the desktop. Users can drag and drop an image from the Web or stored locally on their computer over the Google search box and Google will try and identify it and bring up relevant results. Users can also Search by Image by copying and pasting an image URL or uploading an image by clicking on the camera icon in the search box. Google is also releasing extensions for Chrome and Firefox browsers that will let users search an image on the web by right-clicking on it.

The company says it is rolling out the feature globally in 40 languages now, but it doesn't look to have been activated in my neck of the woods yet so I wasn't able to put it the test by attempting to identify the location of my holiday snaps. If you point your browser to images.google.com and see a camera icon in the search box, however, you should be good to go.

Another feature making its way from mobile devices to the desktop is Voice Search. The feature is limited to Chrome 11 or higher users who will see a microphone icon in the search box. Users can click on the icon and speak their search - provided their computer has a built-in or attached microphone.

Also revealed at 'Inside Search' is Instant Pages, which is basically an evolutionary step of its Instant Search feature introduced last year that provides search results as you type. To speed up things even further, Instant Pages will pre-render the top search result in the background so it will appear instantly when clicked. Instant Pages will be included in the next beta release of Chrome but can be tried now with the developer version.

Check out the videos below for examples of the new Google features.

Search by Image Voice Search Instant Pages
About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick
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9 Comments

What's next???

John Waugh
15th June, 2011 @ 07:54 am PDT

Google image search not ready for prime time. Used images I originally found using Google's image search for "sunset". Didn't even come close..'visually similar' even worse. It did find my avatar. I only searched images that I knew were from various web sites.

Edward Bloom
15th June, 2011 @ 08:54 am PDT

Agree with Edward. This is not working very well at all. Maybe it works better with simple things like simple logos and stuff (which makes a lot of sense to search for, I guess).

Skipjack
15th June, 2011 @ 11:16 am PDT

The idea is cool but the results are rubbish. I have to agree with Edward Bloom and Skipjack, it's definitely not ready for prime time.

Ludwig Heinrich
15th June, 2011 @ 07:58 pm PDT

This is really neat :)

Mash
16th June, 2011 @ 12:42 am PDT

I concur that at the moment it's bordering useless.

I tried it with a series of good quality images of military vehicles and aircraft taken against quite plain backgrounds and it failed to identify any of them, even some of the fairly obvious ones such a BMP-1. For a Panther (like a big Land Rover) the closest it got was, for some reason, a Subaru Impreza!!

If this had worked as I had hoped, it would have been good to track down those moments when you only have a brief moment to snap the vehicle or aircraft at a show, but not find out what it is.

It did ID Blair Castle (in Scotland) but given how many millions of tourists visit and photograph this rather unique looking building I'd have been very surprised if it got that wrong.

(Typing: "Scottish castle painted white" - into normal Google also correctly identifies Blair Castle too though...)

DaddyHoggy
16th June, 2011 @ 07:29 am PDT

It worked for me. I pasted in a photo of my face that I've used as an avatar on various websites such as my blogs, and it found my blogs right away.

HenryFarkas
16th June, 2011 @ 10:31 am PDT

What a brillient idea ... and you just know internet sales of clouthes will rocket ... inclusive of the co-pilot dummy!!!

Harpal Sahota
16th June, 2011 @ 02:01 pm PDT

i want to search for images on my pc where I have one of them on FB. Is there is a way to search images locally through uploading the one image i have from Fb on a "local" searching tool?

Wael AlSaad
7th March, 2013 @ 11:49 am PST
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