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Imagine searching on Google using only your voice. Imagine, instead of typing out key words in your search query, you ask a sentence – just as how you would ask a friend. With Google’s latest addition to its already-powerful search engine, soon everyone will be able to perform the most natural of searches, further breaking down the barrier between man and machine.

This new conversational search feature, announced early this morning at the ongoing Google I/O developer conference, will soon not only be available for those performing searches on mobile devices, but also on laptops and desktops using the Chrome browser. Utilizing the same hotword detection as found on Google Now (where users say “Google” to activate the voice recognition software), those on desktops and laptops can perform conversational search queries by only saying “OK Google”, and a voice recognition icon appears. What’s more, Google is now also able to understand context from the previous search. For example, if the user asks for the weather in, say, London, before then asking “what about here”, Google’s search algorithms will be able to produce the correct reply.

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In addition, Google has also been working on providing better answers to simple queries, and even tries to answer any follow-up questions before the user asks. For example, if the user asks “what’s the population of Canada”, Google will provide a graph featuring the population of the country in recent years, as well as other lines showing the population in other countries usually associated with Canada. Also, Google’s Knowledge Graph, the company’s map of real-world people, places and things, has been expanded to support Polish, Turkist, as well as simplified and traditional Chinese.

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Finally, Google has also added more cards to Google Now. The most interesting addition is the Reminders card, which features geofencing capabilities. It allows reminders not only to be triggered by the time, but also by the location the user is in. Also, Google even triggers a reminder if you’re running late to catch a train or other public transportation. Best of all, users can set most reminders on Google Now using only their voices.

Google is also working on making the ubiquitous search box even more powerful. At Google I/O, Googlers also demonstrated the ability to draft emails on the search box with simple and natural commands – much like how iOS users are accustomed to with Siri. However, Google’s execs admitted that the feature is still some way away from seeing a public release – but the I/O demo certainly proves that we’re not too far away from that reality. Perhaps that is why that part of the keynote was called “The End of Search as We Know It”.

(Source: Google Search Blog)