Search Google with more complex questions

Google Search is becoming less like a search engine and more like a personal assistant and database

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After celebrating its 15th birthday, Google has announced some interesting changes to Google Search, codenamed "Hummingbird." The net result is the search engine is more powerful and less like a simple web crawler.

One of the things you can do now in Google, for example, is get comparisons between two things. Say "Google, compare butter versus olive oil" (or type in "butter vs olive oil) and you'll get a side-by-side nutritional comparison. According to Google's Search blog, other things such as dog breeds and celestial objects can also be compared.

New filters leveraging Google's Knowledge Graph pull in additional information about your search query. So if you say, "Tell me about impressionist artists," you won't just get a list of web pages that have "impressionist artists" in the search results, you'll get related content and additional filters: artist names and histories, famous impressionist works, abstract impressionists, and more.

An update to Google Search on Android and iOS (upcoming) improves voice search too, s you can set reminders with your voice on one device and get notified on any other.

Google's obviously been moving beyond just simple search to more intuitive and intelligent information delivery (as Google Now and Google Glasses have suggested). Search for a music artist, author, TV show, or similar, for example, and the Google Knowledge Graph card with information about that popular item will offer an option to get reminded of new releases (or episodes/movies) on your mobile device.

These new features may make Google more integral to our daily lives than it already is--more useful, and also much more different than the Google we knew 15 years ago. Try challenging Google with some natural, more complex questions. It seems like it wants you to.

Read more of Melanie Pinola’s Tech IT Out blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Melanie on Twitter at @melaniepinola. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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