May is a big month for Google. Their annual developer conference, Google I/O, takes place in California.
Industry leaders around the world wait in anticipation for the latest Google updates. It is great to see how current products and services are evolving and what is up and coming over the next 12 months.
So, what did 2021 Google I/O have to offer?
Google Search announces AI updates
Let’s start with our favourite – Google Search. A consistent thread throughout the 2021 I/O conference is the ramping up of Artificial Intelligence into products and services.
Google has announced a new update for search called MUM (Multitask Unified Model).
“Today’s search engines aren’t quite sophisticated enough to answer the way an expert would. But with a new technology called Multitask Unified Model, or MUM, we’re getting closer to helping you with these types of complex needs. So in the future, you’ll need fewer searches to get things done.“
So, what can we expect?
MUM is claimed to be 1000 times more powerful than the previous update BERT, it is trained in 75 languages and is multimodal – meaning that it can understand information from text and images and potentially, video and audio in the future!
We might be asking Google if hiking boots in a photo are suitable for a planned hiking trip to Mt. Fuji – an example from the conference.
But what does this update mean for local businesses like yours?
We don’t yet know but the potential is vast and could impact the search landscape across all sectors. These could all be real live scenarios in the not too distant future:
House buyers could take photos of their grade 2 listed home to find a suitable survey for their property.
DIY enthusiasts could take pictures of their wood floor for advice on suitable maintenance products.
Fans of fashion might ask who designed an outfit in a photo or which website has it in stock.
MUM is a massive update that enables a combination of complex search terms, such as transactional and informative, to generate detailed results from trusted sources.
The pace of change may be overwhelming but Google was keen to emphasise that leaps forward are taken responsibly. They will continue to use human raters as part of their evaluation process which is great to know given that AI is now becoming a key pillar in google search.
Find out more about MUM over at the Google blog.
“About This Result” Update
Google continues prioritising quality content from trusted sources.
A new “About This Result” feature provides details about a website before it is visited. This update is being rolled out to all English search results and will include information such as a description and when the website was first indexed.
Further updates are planned such as what other sources say about the website as well as related articles to check out.
Augmented Reality Update to Google Maps
The search results in Google Maps will now update based on the time of day as well as how busy an area is. Helpful for finding your nearest coffee shop on an early morning road trip!
Google Maps will introduce augmented reality updates to help navigate new areas and locations as well as discover information on local businesses. Reading street signs in a new city or getting restaurant reviews were examples from the I/O conference.
There are over 100 AI-powered improvements planned to be implemented by the end of the year.
These were just a few of the announcements and it is really interesting to see how AI and AR are starting to be used more and more in the products and services that we use each day.