How tall is that tower in front of you? What’s the name of a river you’re near? What time does a store you’re looking at close? Google’s new “location-aware” search can answer questions like these, even if you yourself don’t know the exact name of something you’re near.
Google demonstrated the feature at our SMX Paris search marketing event yesterday. It’s relatively new, having been released several weeks ago both for Android and for those using the Google Search App on iOS. But Google never made a formal announcement about it, so few have known you can do this type of searching, until now.
Behshad Behzadi, Director of Conversational Search for Google, showed how it worked during an afternoon talk he gave on the future of search. “Location-Aware Search” is my name for the feature, since Behzadi told me Google itself hasn’t named it.
I captured several examples he showed on video, which you can watch below.
“How Tall Is This?”
Behzadi showed two promotional videos each about one minute long that have people demonstrating the feature. In the first, you see a man asking in front of a church. He asks, “What’s the name of this church.” Google, knowing where he’s at geographically, makes the right guess about what he’s asking about and reports the name.
Similarly, the video shows him in front of a restaurant that’s closed. “When does this restaurant open,” he says, without ever naming the location. He gets back the operating hours. Later, standing in front of San Francisco’s Coit Tower, he asks simply “How tall is this” without naming the tower. He’s given the height.
“How Deep Is This Lake?”
In the second promotional video, a woman asks for the name of a park she’s in, how deep a lake is that she’s near and the name of a stream that she sees.
“How Long Is This River?”
Behzadi himself demonstrated the feature. In one example, from inside the conference center, he asked “how long is this river?” Google could tell that he was near the Seine and reported back the length of it:
“Call This Conference Center”
In another example, he asked: “call this conference center.” Google figured out the name of the conference center he was in and placed the call, to the great amusement of the audience:
I’ve tested the feature myself and seen it work. For example, standing near the Eiffel Tower, I asked “how tall is it” and got back the answer.
How To Use Location-Aware Search
Again, this feature is live now and has been for several weeks. Google just never publicized it, so few until now have even known they could try it. But if you have Android and speak your search to Google through the integrated search box, it should work for you. The same is true if you have the Google Search App for iOS. Speaking searches to Chrome also seem to enable it, even if you’re using the iPhone.