A View from David Talbot
Nexus One and Real-Time Search
Launch sideshow: microblogs written (and read) on smartphones, mediated by real-time search
When Google launched its Nexus One smartphone on Tuesday, the event provided an indirect demonstration of another hotly advancing technology: real-time search.
Google unveiled real-time search as an enhancement to search returns in December, recognizing that Web users increasingly produce and demand data faster than the then-existing Google technology was able to index and provide it. Other search engines are also offering various kinds of real-time search returns.
As the Nexus One announcement unfolded knots of Google employees participated in a huge feedback loop: they eyed real-time search returns about the Nexus One–in many cases doing so using the device itself–as the bloggerati and Twitterati pecked madly away on their own smartphones.
“As we were announcing the phone, these real-time [search] results were pointing out all the highlights of the phone,” Google Fellow Amit Singhal says. “All the important things that I needed to know… were available to me right on Google’s results page.”
I met Singhal in Mountain View Wednesday. He explained that just a few months ago, the gap between a blog or microblog post and their discovery via a Google search would have been five to fifteen minutes–but now it can be less than ten seconds. This is thanks to new agreements between Google and Twitter (as well as other sources of real-time data) details of which have not been officially disclosed, as well as new algorithms for sifting through the new data to discern its relevance.
In explaining the technology to me, Singhal sat down to check out the latest search returns on the Nexus One. “Someone just Tweeted about a certain link on the phone, someone else Tweeted on what the prices are,” he noted excitedly. “As this content is created, we are getting it, bringing it to our users, passing through our relevance filters.”
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