Google testing Gmail results in search

August 9, 2012

Google is ramping up its search offerings, saying Wednesday that it has started a pilot program that lets users include Gmail results in their normal search queries.

In a company blog post Wednesday, the company said that Google users can now sign up to have the feature enabled on their accounts.

“We think you shouldn’t have to be your own mini-search engine to find the most useful information— it should just work,” wrote Amit Singhal, a senior vice president for Google and a Google fellow, in the post. “A search is a search, and we want our results to be truly universal.”

In an interview with the Associated Press, Singhal said that the company would be open to adding other e-mail services to the results as well, though there’s no indication that any other companies have expressed interest yet.

According to the post, the feature would cull information from users’ inboxes for relevant queries. A search for “my flights,” for example, would pull flight confirmation e-mails and match that information against Google’s existing flight tracking search feature. Searches related to other things, such as plans for the weekend, would also showcase e-mails related to that subject on the right-hand column of Google’s search results.

Singhal said that the company is adding features to search one “baby step” at a time, and that the company wants to hear from users who enable the feature.

Google also announced that it will soon expand its voice search feature on the iPhone and iPad to work better with natural speech queries.

Asking your device, “What movies are playing this weekend?” should surface showtimes, trailers and nearby theaters, Singhal wrote.

The inability to return movie times is a common complaint about Siri, Apple’s personal assistant app, which will be in direct competition with the voice search app. And while Siri’s strength may lie in being able to set reminders and add calendar appointments for the iPhone, Google’s search app is available on far more devices.

The app will pull information from the Knowledge Graph, Google’s encyclopedia-like summaries of notable people, places and things, and the app speaks your answers to you when possible.

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Apple, Amazon plug security holes: now what?

AP: In 360-degree vistas, Google Street View delivers road trips through 5 Calif. national parks

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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