Google just rolled out a bunch of updates to its search engine

Key Points
  • Google became a company just over 20 years ago and came under the Alphabet umbrella three years ago.
  • The market-leading internet search engine is adding features like collections, activity cards and featured videos.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during Digital Unlocked Google event at Taj palace on Jan. 4, 2017, in New Delhi, India.
Pradeep Gaur | Mint | Getty Images

Google is adding a bunch of new features to its namesake search engine, executives said at an event in San Francisco on Monday.

Here's a rundown of some of the changes:

  • The company is drawing on its artificial intelligence capabilities to provide smart videos in Google search with a new "Featured Videos" card. It will start to play videos in results, one after another -- but only show the short parts of videos that are relevant to your search. If you type in something about what to see while in New York, videos of the New York City skyline, the Statue of Liberty and other destinations might show up in this new box. Tap on one of these videos and you can watch it in its entirety.
  • The company is introducing an activity card that will show up at the top of search results. It will show pages you've visited, as well as your queries about the certain area, Google vice president of product management Nick Fox said. You can delete items right from this activity card.
  • Google is also introducing something called "Collections." You'll be able to save content from the activity card to your collections. Google will then use things you've saved, and your history, in order to recommend new content for your collections, Fox said.
  • Additionally Google is enhancing topics for certain things you search for. If you search for "pug," for example, you'll see a card where you can find little things to tap, like names, training details and how to buy or adopt a pug. Google will make sure that these cards at the top of search results will stay fresh based on what people publish online, Fox said.
  • Google is also redesigning its feed for recommended content, which appears in places like the Google app or the homescreen of Google's Pixel devices. It will now be called "Discover," and it will show videos, among other things, for the first time. When you search for an interest like hiking, at the top of Google search results you'll see a way to add hiking to your list of interests, and then content about hiking will appear in your feed, said Emily Moxley, director of product for search. You'll be able to hit buttons to see more or less about certain topics from the feed. Or you could hit the name of the topic to see a bunch of content about it. Discover will show related topics for you to follow as well. Google is bringing the Discover feed to the Google homepage on all mobile browsers in the next few weeks Moxley said.
  • The Discover feed will remember preferences for the language you like different types of content to be in. For example, if you like recipes in Spanish, it will only show pages with Spanish-language recipes, but if you like your news in English, news articles will be in English.
  • Certain content that appears in the Discover feed will also provide you with cards below of additional related content. For example, under a new movie trailer in the feed you might find details about people starring in the movie.
  • Google's image search is getting enhancements. There will be tags that show products, and other kinds of images, like stock images and do-it-yourself tutorials, so you'll be able find the sort of thing you're looking for faster. Google Images will get its new look on desktop computers starting this Thursday.
  • The Google Lens feature announced in the past for things like the Google Photos app is coming to Google Images, too. You can identify certain objects within an image to view images relating to what you've selected.
  • Google is launching Pathways, a way to help people learn new skills in order to get new jobs. If you search for information about jobs, you'll see some training programs, as well as available jobs in your area. The company is starting with a test in Virginia.

The company is constantly thinking about new ways to change its search engine. Last year Google ran more than 200,000 experiments for its search engine and initiated 2,500 changes to it, Google vice president of search Ben Gomes said at the event.

Google is celebrating its 20th birthday this month. Three years ago the internet search market leader formed a parent company for itself, Alphabet.

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