Last week, I talked about how Google Now could squish the tar out of Apple’s Siri in ways that Apple probably hasn’t been thinking enough of. It seems hyperbolic, but Siri is pretty underwhelming as a search companion, even when it can understand you. The reason why Google is taking the lead is because they’ll be able to have a conversation with you over multiple related inquiries. Google brought this out today and I got to mess with it just a little bit. It’s going to be very interesting, but there wasn’t much to brag about, yet.
If you have Chrome 27, which just debuted this morning, you’ll have access to this new feature. I had to manually update Chrome to get it, then I strapped on my headset to get going. Maybe I missed something, but the vaunted feature wasn’t active during my tests. For one, you can’t search via the omnibar, you have to go to Google.com to find the microphone input feature (there’s no “OK Google” activation, like demonstrated at Google I/O, yet). Now, the Search by Voice feature has been around for a while, but when you ask a search, you get Google’s Mechanical Lady to respond, much like you do on Jelly Bean and later. I tried to use conversational search, but at no point did it pick up the previous search and run with it. It just worked like a normal search.
What is conversational search? Essentially, Google remembers your last inquiry so that you can ask more information without having to declare a full, formal sentence again. For example, I could ask “what’s the weather today?” and get a card with my local weather – which worked – but in a second question, I could ask “what about the day after?” and it would bring up the weather information for the next day without having to ask about the weather again. It builds on their “learned inquiry” tech they’ve had for years that’s allowed you to auto-fill inquiries based on what other people have searched for and once enabled properly, will totally wreck everyone’s shit in the search market.
Unfortunately, no amount of coaxing Chrome would start a conversation via second/third/so on inquiries. There was also, in Chrome style, no option to enable it. It’s just partially there at the moment. It’s probably why Google didn’t make a big deal about its release and why the media hopped on it. If this changes in the future, I’ll be sure to follow up.
Source: Search Engine Land