Travel with Google

Travellers can have at their fingertips a new app from Google – Google Trips, and they can plan their trips on the desktop now (as well as mobile) with Google Destinations.

See more, plan less – try Google Trips, Google Blog (Sep 19)

“Google Trips is a personalized tour guide in your pocket. Each trip contains key categories of information, including day plans, reservations, things to do, food & drink, and more, so you have everything you need at your fingertips.”

Google Destinations, Now for Desktop, Google Operating System (Sep 14)

“Search for a continent, a country or state you’d like to visit and the Knowledge Graph card has a “plan a trip” section which includes a travel guide, information about hotels and upcoming events”

Google travel tools for mobile user

Making travel arrangements on a mobile device just got easier through Google’s features to improve filtering of hotel searches, and new alerts for airfare.  These will be seen first in the US – then internationally.

Google offers new hotel search filters, deal labels and airline price tracking, Greg Sterling, (Jul 12)

Of interest: “Google has said that mobile visits to travel sites now represent 40 percent of total travel traffic. Responding to this shift in consumer behavior.”

Search “assistants”

Google had much to say about the new “Google assistant” at its annual developers’ conference, Google I/O. It has AI capability and will be built into apps. Danny SUllivan explained in Meet Google assistant: A new search platform, rather than a gadget or an app (May 18)

“So what is Google assistant, in the end? Google assistant combines two things: Google’s expertise in extracting information from content across the web and from partners plus its machine learning smarts to understand what people are asking.”

Broadly, these are called digital assistants. Others are Siri from Apple, Cortana – Microsoft, Echo in ALexa – Amazon. Paul Hunter at State of Digital asked Will Digital Assistants Replace Search? No – because the assistants are most useful for directions, shopping – the kinds of questions spoken to a smartphone – not deeper research into a topic or need. Hunter closes with “Voice search and digital assistants are definitely going to become a big factor in digital, but will it be the end of search? I doubt it.”

Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO, sees Google’s next stage to be in the realms of artificial intelligence and virtual reality.

Google’s CEO sums up his AI vision: “Hi. How can I help?” CNet (May 17)

Products that reflect this and were shown at the I/O conference:

… a messaging app (which suggests comparisons to Facebook Messenger), a voice-activated speaker and smart home control hub (sort of like Amazon’s Echo), a video chat app (think Apple’s Facetime) and a new hardware and software system for VR built around a smartphone (shades of Samsung Gear VR).

The assistant will be “baked in” to new products. Google Home is a smart home speaker – talk to it anytime and use it to manage the house. Allo is a messaging app that will compete with Facebook Messenger, Snapchat and Kik.

Google Translate News

There have been at least two important postings about Google Translate in the Official Blog.

Ten years of Google Translate (April 28) – yes Translate has been with us for 10 years. It now handles 103 languages.

One of the bigger developments is Word Lens – using this app on your mobile phone for “reading menus, street signs and more” – works for 28 languages.

Translate where you need it: in any app, offline, and wherever you see Chinese (May 11) – announces Tap to Translate on Android – copy the text and get the translation.

Posting also announces offline mode for iOS – download the language package and be able to translate when offline.

New Search Experiences

Smartphones have changed the search experience. Adam Dorfman in Search Engine Land shows that As search changes, Google changes.

“But, seemingly overnight, everything changed. Now, searching means utilizing a wide range of interfaces, including GPS devices, wearables, smart objects such as Amazon Echo and operating systems such as iOS and Android. Oh, and we’re not just lounging on our sofas at home when we search. We’re searching on the go.”

While mobile is where the action is today, the author identifies some areas where still excels.

Mobile Apps and Voice

Panelists at SMX East discussed the future of search. In reading about the three themes, keep in mind that future is never longer than a year. They are mobile apps and voice – these affect everyone, and attributio – which is a matter of attributing sale of a product to a source or agent.

Looking Ahead: The New Search Landscape, Casie Gilette, Search Engine Land (Oct 1)

Mobile apps, attribution and voice search were the main themes, but of course, the topic of where Yahoo and Bing fit in was brought up. The biggest takeaway was the split of Yahoo/Bing (i.e., Gemini) and how that may end up hurting each company in the long run.

Using a digital assistant

Basic premise to a “digital assistant” is that it must know a lot about you. Danny Sullivan examines the three leaders from Google, Microsoft, and Apple in How Google Now, Siri & Cortana Predict What You Want [Search Engine Land Sept 18]

Google, Apple and Microsoft all have agents that want to be your personal assistant. But how well Google Now, Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana can predict your needs depends on how much you want to share, how wedded to particular platforms you want to be and, in some cases, how much you actively want to help make those predictions happen.