Earlier this week, Google introduced Knowledge Graph, the company’s new search technology that understands “things not strings” and adds rich and relevant details about your query in the sidebar of your search results. Here are five great things you can now do with a quick Google search.
I took the new version of Google Search for a spin to find out just what it can do, and have to say it’s pretty useful. To recap, Google now connects your search query with its knowledgebase, which includes Wikipedia and the CIA World Factbook. If you search for a person, place, or thing within that 500+ million object database, Google adds the related key facts alongside the regular search results. (The tech is still rolling out, but you should see it when you’re logged into Google sometime in the next few days, if you don’t already.)
The new sidebar is great for offering a quick snapshot of what you’re searching for and to answer basic questions. For example, here’s the summary for The Beatles (you have to be precise in the search—”beatles” or “the beatles” will call up the Knowledge Graph information, but “beatles music” won’t). You get the first line from Wikipedia, date the band formed, members, awards, record labels, and more. Unfortunately, the songs and albums lists are condensed, but you can dig further on any person, place, or thing in the summary that Google has in its Knowledge Graph. The summary answers the who, what, when, and sometimes where of your search.
Besides giving you less reason to hit up Wikipedia and offering trivia facts, though, the sidebar can also help you actually accomplish things.
1. Find Recommendations for Movies, Music, Books, and TV
Kind of like Amazon’s “people who bought this also bought” recommendation feature, you can check the “people also search for” recommendations in the sidebar for more entertainment suggestions when you look up a movie, show, artist, or book.
Google only lists five things there, however, and sometimes they’re pretty obvious. For The Hunger Games books, for example, the related searches include the other titles in the trilogy. But sometimes other details provided in the sidebar will also suggest new things to explore—such as other books that fall into the “speculative fiction” and “utopian and dystopian fiction” genres. Or if there’s a TV show or movie you really like, click on one of the writer’s names or the director to find other work they’ve done.
Obviously, this isn’t as robust as using movie, book, or similar recommendation apps or reading reviews for more suggestions, but in your one-second search, you just might find something new.
2. Find Cultural Events or Other Happenings
You can also quickly find out what live events are happening at venues near you by looking up the establishment (a music venue, theatre, or comedy club, for example).
Look up a band or artist and if they’re performing soon, Google tells you when and where—with the events nearby shown first. (Google already adds sports schedules for some major teams at the top of the main search results, so you won’t find those schedules in the sidebar.)
3. Know the Must-See Attractions When You Travel
Heading to a new city? Google will recommend five top points of interest. For popular destinations like Paris, the suggestions will be obvious (the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, etc.), but you can click on the points of interest to get the map, address, and phone number—nice for quick lookup when you travel—as well as additional related places to visit and links to reviews.
The points of interest suggestions are more useful for less well-known attractions or unfamiliar destinations. (Next time I’m near Flagstaff, I won’t pass up visiting the Meteor Crater.)
4. Locate the Closest Post Office, Dry Cleaner, Italian Restaurant, and More
Look up “post office” and alongside the original listing of US Post Office locations near you, Google now adds a handy map. If you want to mail your package from a different area, add the name to your search.
Those maps also show up if you search for “campground” or “waterpark,” as well as “Chinese takeout,” “Italian restaurants,” and, more specifically, Starbucks or Target.
This is pretty neat: Rolling over the marker on the map highlights the corresponding place listed in the search results.
5. Find Out What Time It Is in Another City
Finally, quickly find out what the local time is in Milwaukee, Osaka, Auckland, or any other city by just typing it into the unibar and hitting enter.
Have you noticed any other nifty things the new Google search does? Share your finds with us in the comments.
Photo remixed from an original by mart (Shutterstock)