But there are limits to how much Google can directly answer. The feature is designed to work on superlatives, specific time points and some complex combinations of the two. For example, it can tell you who the tallest players on the Golden State Warriors are, with “the tallest” being a clue of the query’s intent. Other examples include, what the population of Japan was in 1990, or who was president when the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. (It’s been a while.)
Google receives many queries about celebrities, as well as health and sports trivia. The app’s new function is built to excel at questions like “What songs did Taylor Swift record in 2014?”
Some complex questions will still confuse it. For example, asking “Who was Dakota Johnson’s mom in the movie?” will trigger movies that Johnson’s real-life mother was in, not the name of the actress who played Johnson’s mother in “50 Shades of Grey.” While the technology illustrates an improvement in understanding a user’s intent, it’s not perfect.
Google is shifting toward a more natural way for users to get their questions answered. On the app, there’s no need to type due to voice recognition. And a user won’t always have to click to another Web site to find an answer.