Author Archives: Search

Latino genealogists use Google to search for their roots

Editor’s note: For National Hispanic Heritage Month, we teamed up with Los Angeles-based artist and photographer Arlene Mejorado, whose work explores themes of racial identity and cultural experience. She brought the family stories of Joana Diaz and Lenny Trujillo to life for this article.

Mimi Lozado

Mimi Lozano says genealogy has been a way to dispel the many stereotypes and celebrate the contributions of Hispanic and Latino families. Photo provided by the author.


When 85-year-old Mimi Lozano began looking into her Mexican heritage in the 1980s, she had a hard time accessing any information about her ancestors. It turns out the same was true for other people with her background, so she and other local genealogists took action. They decided to start the Society of Hispanic Historical and Ancestral Research, which has been helping people find their roots for over 30 years. 

Mimi, who recently retired as head of the organization, has seen how technology has made genealogy research easier, particularly for Latino and Hispanic genealogists. "That's what I tell people. Don't get frustrated,” she says. “If you Google it, someone will have some information."

But Mimi isn’t alone in her search. Around the country, Hispanic and Latino genealogy enthusiasts are using Google technology to help them track down records, connect with other researchers and even reunite with long-lost relatives, to piece together a richer picture of the past.

Growing up, Lenny Trujillo only knew bits and pieces of his family history. As a young boy, his father would take him to the Agua Mansa Cemetery in Colton, California, where dozens of his relatives are buried. 

After retiring from the U.S. Postal Service, Lenny, who is 67, wanted to learn more about the patriarch of his family, Lorenzo Trujillo. In 1841, Lorenzo brought his entire family over from New Mexico to modern-day California, becoming one of the early non-indigenous settlers of the San Bernardino and Riverside areas.

Using Search, Lenny could look at the burial records of all the Trujillos at the cemetery and research the Old Spanish Trail, which his great-great-great grandfather Lorenzo traversed with his family over a thousand miles by foot. 

Lorenzo's journey made a deep impression on Lenny. He wanted to memorialize Lorenzo in a significant way, so he enlisted a sculptor and chose one of his artworks to place near the unmarked gravesite. The design, he says, reminds him of a hurricane. “The center is bringing force in but it's also distributing everything at the same time," he says.

For 42-year-old Joana Diaz of Philadelphia, genealogy became a way to feel proud of who she is. Growing up, she would spend most summers in Puerto Rico, staying intermittently with both sets of grandparents, then back home, where she had very little family. So she started to look into her genealogy to feel closer to her family back in Puerto Rico. 

Using Search, she found an old census and history books about Puerto Rico. She learned more about the line of family who came to Puerto Rico from Corsica, deciphering these documents with the help of Google Translate. One of her favorite finds was an old photograph of the church in Cidra, Puerto Rico, where she spent a number of summers. 

"It's important to remember the struggles before you and what our ancestors went through,” she says. “On the island, time moves slowly. But it's also where people are still very connected to the earth, to the culture and who they are."

Kat Romero

Kat Romero displays the family heirlooms that belonged to her great-grandmother Antonita Alires, which she uncovered by tracking down a relative using Search. Photo by Sabi Rivera.

Like Lenny, Kat Romero, 37, of Norman, Oklahoma, wanted to learn more about her Hispanic-New Mexican lineage. As a child, Kat mostly grew up with her mother's side of the family. But she longed to know more about her father's family.

She found a book, made available on Google Books, that showed that her father’s maternal side was from a long line of prominent Hispanic families. The platform, she says, has been valuable. "You would have to read countless books that would be in academic libraries just to find a mention of your ancestor," she says.

She went on to look into her father’s paternal line. Then, she heard that one of her relatives had many of the family keepsakes. The only problem: Due to a family rift, no one knew her whereabouts.  She did some research in Google Search, then called each phone number and wrote letters to each address she found. When she had a good feeling about one of the addresses, she went to investigate. 

Her hunch was right, and her long-lost cousin greeted her warmly, bringing out bins of photos and family memorabilia. Kat inherited her great grandmother’s tobacco box, hair comb and rosary—things she now treasures.

Gabriel Garcia

At age 15, Gabriel Garcia started an online social networking group with other Cuban Americans researching their roots because many of them did not know about their history.  Photo courtesy of Gabriel Garcia. 

A link to a place was also the reason for 23-year-old Gabriel Garcia to start digging into his ancestry. Gabriel came to Miami when he was 4 years old. His grandfather had been a political prisoner, and as a result his family was given asylum. 

Coming to the U.S. at such a young age, he thought genealogy might be a way to connect to the country he left behind. In his family, he's gained the nickname el investigadorbecause of his relentlessness. 

He interviewed all the relatives he could find. Through Search, he found some key information about his great-great grandfather, who migrated from the Canary Islands to Cuba: an article that listed the date he became a Cuban citizen. With additional digging, he found an image in a digitized book that showed his great-great grandfather in his tobacco field.  

His research led him to meet with relatives he never knew existed. Not only that, he says it has also made him more open-minded. "It opens up another way to interpret and see the world," he says.

Source: Search


18 years after Google Images, the Versace jungle print dress is back

Nearly 20 years ago, a green Versace dress broke the internet, and Google Images was born.


It was February 2000 when Jennifer Lopez wore a jungle print dress, designed by Donatella Versace, to the Grammy Awards. Seemingly overnight it became a fashion legend, as well as the most popular search query Google had seen at the time. 


But back in 2000, search results were still just a list of blue links. When the Search team realized they weren’t able to directly surface the results that people wanted—a picture of Jennifer in the dress—they were inspired to create Google Images.


Yesterday, at Milan Fashion Week, we reunited with Donatella Versace to celebrate nearly two decades since this iconic moment in fashion (and Google) history. We showed off a new, revamped green dress in the print, designed by Donatella Versace and modeled by J.Lo.

J.Lo and Donatella Versace

Google Tilt Brush helped decorate the runway space with digital artwork inspired by the new print.

Tiltbrush - jungle print
Versace Google Assistant

No one predicted that the jungle print dress would have the technological impact that it did—not even J.Lo herself. Eighteen years later, Google Images is used by millions of people every day, not just to look for celebrity style or fashion photos, but to find ideas for redesigning a living room, creating a meal, or embarking on a DIY project. 


Who knows where our next big idea might come from?

Source: Search


Elevating original reporting in Search

Google Search was built to provide everyone access to information on the web—and with tens of thousands of web pages, hundreds of hours of video, thousands of tweets and news stories published every minute of the day, our job is to sift through that content and find the most helpful results possible. With news in particular, we always aim to show a diversity of articles and sources to give users as much context and insight as possible.   

An important element of the coverage we want to provide is original reporting, an endeavor which requires significant time, effort and resources by the publisher. Some stories can also be both critically important in the impact they can have on our world and difficult to put together, requiring reporters to engage in deep investigative pursuits to dig up facts and sources.  These are among the reasons why we aim to support these industry efforts and help people get access to the most authoritative reporting.

Recently, we’ve made ranking updates and published changes to our search rater guidelinesto help us better recognize original reporting, surface it more prominently in Search and ensure it stays there longer. This means readers interested in the latest news can find the story that started it all, and publishers can benefit from having their original reporting more widely seen.

Ranking changes to support original reporting 

In today’s fast-paced world of news, the original reporting on a subject doesn’t always stay in the spotlight for long. Many news articles, investigations, exclusive interviews or other work can be so notable that they generate interest and follow-up coverage from other publications. And in other cases, many stories cover a single news development, with all of them published around the same time. This can make it difficult for users to find the story that kicked everything off.

While we typically show the latest and most comprehensive version of a story in news results, we've made changes to our products globally to highlight articles that we identify as significant original reporting. Such articles may stay in a highly visible position longer. This prominence allows users to view the original reporting while also looking at more recent articles alongside it.

There is no absolute definition of original reporting, nor is there an absolute standard for establishing how original a given article is. It can mean different things to different newsrooms and publishers at different times, so our efforts will constantly evolve as we work to understand the life cycle of a story.

Changing our rater guidelines

We use algorithms to sort through everything we find on the web and organize this content in a way that is helpful. Those algorithms are composed of hundreds of different signals that are constantly updated and improved. To tune and validate our algorithms and help our systems understand the authoritativeness of individual pages, we have more than 10,000 raters around the world evaluating our work - their feedback doesn't change the ranking of the specific results they're reviewing; instead it is used to evaluate and improve algorithms in a way that applies to all results. The principles that guide how they operate are mapped out in our search rater guidelines, a public document that allows raters to better understand and assess the unique characteristics of content that appears in Search results. 

In short: these guidelines are the clear description of what we value in content when ranking.  And we’ve just introduced a change to help us gather new feedback so that our automated ranking systems can better surface original content. 

To illustrate the update, in section 5.1 of the guidelines, we instruct raters to use the highest rating, “very high quality,” for original news reporting “that provides information that would not otherwise have been known had the article not revealed it. Original, in-depth, and investigative reporting requires a high degree of skill, time, and effort.”

In addition to recognizing individual instances of original reporting at the page level, we also ask raters to consider the publisher’s overall reputation for original reporting. That update in section 2.6.1 reads: “Many other kinds of websites have reputations as well. For example, you might find that a newspaper (with an associated website) has won journalistic awards. Prestigious awards, such as the Pulitzer Prize award, or a history of high quality original reporting are strong evidence of positive reputation.”

We hope these updates to elevate original reporting will provide people with a deeper understanding of their changing communities and the conversations going on around them. Giving everyone better access to original journalism across all types of stories—ranging from moviessportsmusic and celebrity scoops to the serious journalism behind #MeToo, the Panama Papers and the opioid crisis—is all about helping people stay informed about the news that matters to them. 

Source: Search


Finding fresh, helpful information through featured snippets

Sometimes when you use Google, you’re seeking information when timeliness matters, even if your query doesn’t spell that out. For example, when you search for something like “income brackets,” it’s likely that you’re looking for this year’s tax information, not last year’s.

tax screenshot

U.S. income brackets were updated for 2019, so recent information is most helpful.

On the other hand, for many queries, the most useful information isn’t necessarily found among the most recent web results. For instance, if you ask “Why is the sky red at sunset,” the underlying explanation doesn’t change over time, and the clearest description is often found on an older page. Prioritizing fresh content wouldn’t necessarily yield better results. 


At the core of Search is language understanding, and our systems don’t understand language the same way humans do. This is why we’re constantly developing new ways to better understand your searches and provide relevant results, especially in cases where there is useful context that is implied, like whether freshness matters.


As part of our ongoing efforts to make Search work better for you, a new algorithm update improves our systems’ understanding of what information remains useful over time and what becomes out-of-date more quickly. This is particularly helpful for featured snippets, a feature in Search that highlights pages that our systems determine are most likely to have the information you’re looking for. For queries where fresh information is important, our systems will try to find the most useful and up-to-date featured snippets.  


Here are some examples where fresh featured snippets are especially helpful. You might be looking for information that is updated on a regular basis, like the next full moon, the winner of a reality TV show, or upcoming holidays. 

UK school holidays


Other information gets more accurate over time. For example, as an event approaches, we learn more specific details. A fresher page about an upcoming TV premiere might have more specific information and other useful content, like trailers, that you can click through to view.

Stranger Things season 3


Sometimes a query is related to current events, so fresh sources are particularly important. If you’re searching for a food recall, for example, you probably want to find the most recent information with guidance for that specific issue.

Listeria recall - before
Listeria recall -- after

Above: Before launch, a snippet pointing to less recent information. Bottom: After launch, information about the most recent recall.

Content on the web is always changing—sometimes at rapid speed, depending on the topic—so our results for any given query can change along with it. (In fact, that’s why you may not currently see some of the results above.) 


We strive to always update  our systems to keep our results relevant and useful. Some of the changes we make may not always be obvious, but we hope we are always able to help you find the fresh information you’re looking for.

Source: Search


Finding fresh, helpful information through featured snippets

Sometimes when you use Google, you’re seeking information when timeliness matters, even if your query doesn’t spell that out. For example, when you search for something like “income brackets,” it’s likely that you’re looking for this year’s tax information, not last year’s.

tax screenshot

U.S. income brackets were updated for 2019, so recent information is most helpful.

On the other hand, for many queries, the most useful information isn’t necessarily found among the most recent web results. For instance, if you ask “Why is the sky red at sunset,” the underlying explanation doesn’t change over time, and the clearest description is often found on an older page. Prioritizing fresh content wouldn’t necessarily yield better results. 


At the core of Search is language understanding, and our systems don’t understand language the same way humans do. This is why we’re constantly developing new ways to better understand your searches and provide relevant results, especially in cases where there is useful context that is implied, like whether freshness matters.


As part of our ongoing efforts to make Search work better for you, a new algorithm update improves our systems’ understanding of what information remains useful over time and what becomes out-of-date more quickly. This is particularly helpful for featured snippets, a feature in Search that highlights pages that our systems determine are most likely to have the information you’re looking for. For queries where fresh information is important, our systems will try to find the most useful and up-to-date featured snippets.  


Here are some examples where fresh featured snippets are especially helpful. You might be looking for information that is updated on a regular basis, like the next full moon, the winner of a reality TV show, or upcoming holidays. 

UK school holidays


Other information gets more accurate over time. For example, as an event approaches, we learn more specific details. A fresher page about an upcoming TV premiere might have more specific information and other useful content, like trailers, that you can click through to view.

Stranger Things season 3


Sometimes a query is related to current events, so fresh sources are particularly important. If you’re searching for a food recall, for example, you probably want to find the most recent information with guidance for that specific issue.

Listeria recall - before
Listeria recall -- after

Above: Before launch, a snippet pointing to less recent information. Bottom: After launch, information about the most recent recall.

Content on the web is always changing—sometimes at rapid speed, depending on the topic—so our results for any given query can change along with it. (In fact, that’s why you may not currently see some of the results above.) 


We strive to always update  our systems to keep our results relevant and useful. Some of the changes we make may not always be obvious, but we hope we are always able to help you find the fresh information you’re looking for.

Source: Search


Get the scoop: The ice cream America is searching for

Nothing says summer like the jingle of an ice cream truck—and cooling off with a (quickly melting) tasty treat. But these days, Americans aren’t just settling for chocolate and vanilla.  To celebrate National Ice Cream Day on July 21, we’ve rounded up this year’s top trending ice cream-related searches across the U.S.—and found more people are looking to experience new flavors, types, forms and even temperatures. 

Global treats    

This year, searches for ice cream have moved away from your typical neighborhood ice cream truck and gone international. Searches for Mexican ice cream have gone up, thanks to people looking to have a taste of the raw milk, hand-churned, wooden-barrelled, sweet and spicy creation. Japan’s creations are also trending, with chewy and colorful mochi sparking interest, along with “fish ice cream,” or taiyaki, fish-shaped cakes that make tasty ice cream cones. And the Italian classic, gelato, has U.S. searchers craving its dense, silky texture. 

Gym worthy

“Keto ice cream” has reached the dessert menu, with people searching for options that cut out carbs. Similarly, Americans are searching for “protein ice cream,” which boosts protein levels by using milk protein concentrate or whey protein. Others who aren’t so diet conscious are searching for fried ice cream. After breading, the scoop is quickly deep-fried to create a crispy shell around it. It’s served warm from the outside, but with a cold, sweet heart.

Unconventionally frosty   

Chocolate, vanilla and strawberry are still ice cream royalty when it comes to searches. But they have some competition. Filipino Ube ice cream has warmed up to Americans with its intense purple color. And green ice cream, like matcha and avocado varieties, has also seen searches grow this year. Snow ice cream is also a big thing this year, and you won’t believe its main ingredient: actual snow!

In case you need a little push to decide what to order, here’s the full list of trending searches on this tasty topic:  

Top trending ice cream types in 2019 in the U.S: 

  1. Snow ice cream

  2. Keto ice cream

  3. Mexican ice cream

  4. Ice cream bars

  5. Fish ice cream

  6. Mochi ice cream

  7. Gelato

  8. Ice cream sundae

  9. Fried ice cream

  10. Protein ice cream

Top trending ice cream flavors in 2019 in the U.S.: 

  1. Strawberry ice cream

  2. Ube ice cream

  3. Chocolate ice cream

  4. Coffee ice cream

  5. Vanilla ice cream

  6. Oreo ice cream

  7. Mango ice cream

  8. Coconut ice cream

  9. Matcha ice cream

  10. Avocado ice cream

Source: Search


A different sort of moonshot: looking back on Apollo 11

When astronauts set foot on the Moon 50 years ago, it was a technological triumph that sparked curiosity across the globe. Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins inspired us to learn more about space and life here on Earth. A similar spirit of curiosity and exploration has always been core to Google, with our mission to make the universe of knowledge accessible to people around the world. So on the anniversary of the Moon landing, we’re bringing you new ways to learn about this milestone of human achievement, including new perspectives and stories that celebrate the lesser-known figures who made it happen.


Starting today, in collaboration with the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, you can get up close to the command module that carried Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins to the Moon. To get started, search for “Apollo 11” from your AR-enabled mobile device. You’ll get the option to see the module in 3D, so you can zoom in and check it out from all angles. Using augmented reality, you can then bring the command module into your space—your bedroom, the kitchen or wherever you are—to get a better sense of its size. And later this month, you can do the same thing with Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit and examine what astronauts wore on the surface of the Moon.

Command module AR

You can also explore 20 new visual stories related to the lunar mission directly from Search. When you enter a space-related query—like “Apollo 11 mission”—on your mobile device, you’ll see visual stories from the Smithsonian about the mission, the spacecraft, and the people who made it possible. These full screen, tappable visual stories feature photos, videos and information about the space journey. 

Moon landing Stories GIF

One of the stories that I found personally inspiring was of Margaret Hamilton, known for helping coin the term “software engineering,” and creating the on-board software for Apollo 11. Among other tasks, this software made sure the Apollo 11 lunar module’s system could manage the information it was receiving and safely land on the lunar surface.

Google Arts & Culture has 40 new exhibits about Apollo 11, like Walter Cronkite’s reflections on humankind’s first steps, or a lesson on how to put on a space suit and pack snacks for the journey. There’s a lot to learn--the inside of your command module is a good place to take notes. And there’s more: starting July 15, Google Earth will have several new tours and quizzes to help you visually explore more about the Moon mission, NASA and the world of space exploration.


Space has always been near and dear to our hearts, whether it’s helping you explore the International Space Station through Street View, celebrate the first photo of a black hole, or simply satisfy your curiosity on Google Search. Try searching for “moon” (or “🌙”) on Google Photos to see your snapshots of our neighbor. Ask the Google Assistant questions to learn fun facts about the Moon, like what sports have been played on the surface. And be sure to visit Google.com on the 20th for another special Moon-related surprise. 

Apollo 11 continues to have a profound impact on our planet’s history. We hope this is just the beginning of your space explorations. 🚀

Source: Search


GIF-ing you a way to say LOL, haha or jajaja from Google Images

GIFs have become an essential part of communicating with friends and family. Whether we’re texting, emailing, or posting online, we’re always on the hunt for that perfect GIF. In fact, over the past five years, GIF search interest on Google Images has nearly tripled, as people search for the GIF that speaks most to them.


To make it easier to say “surprised,” “good morning” or “buenas noches” with the perfect GIF, Google Images now has a “Share GIFs” section that lets you share GIFs directly into different apps, including Gmail, Hangouts, Android Messages and Whatsapp.

Share-GIF-hangout.gif

This section is powered by our GIF search engine, something we've been investing in since our acquisition of Tenor last year. Shareable GIFs are made available by content creators, including our partners from streaming services, movie studios, and the YouTube community. Any content provider, GIF creator or GIF platform can submit GIFs to the new section on Google Images by either uploading GIFs to Tenor.com, or connecting with Google’s partnership team via this form.

GIFs appear in this section based on how likely they are to be shared, so that you can find a GIF that captures exactly what you want to say. This feature will be available starting today on the Google app for iOS and Android, as well as Chrome on Android. Over time, we'll bring directly shareable GIFs to more surfaces and mobile browsers, so it’s as easy as possible to share your personality with a cartoon, animal, or something else entirely.

Panda!

Source: Search


How we help you find lyrics in Google Search

When you’re searching for a song’s lyrics, often you’ll see an information box in Search that shows the lyrics on the page. This feature has been under scrutiny this week, so we wanted to explain how it works and where the lyrics come from.

How lyrics appear in Search

Lyrics can appear in information boxes and on Knowledge Panels in Search when you’re looking for songs or lyrics. While we do this to help you find that information quickly, we also ensure that the songwriters are paid for their creative work. To do that, we pay music publishers for the right to display lyrics, since they manage the rights to these lyrics on behalf of the songwriters.

Where the lyrics text comes from

Here’s something you might not know: music publishers often don’t have digital copies of the lyrics text. In these cases, we—like music streaming services and other companies—license the lyrics text from third parties.


We do not crawl or scrape websites to source these lyrics. The lyrics that you see in information boxes on Search come directly from lyrics content providers, and they are updated automatically as we receive new lyrics and corrections on a regular basis.


News reports this week suggested that one of our lyrics content providers is in a dispute with a lyrics site about where their written lyrics come from. We’ve asked our lyrics partner to investigate the issue to ensure that they’re following industry best practices in their approach. We always strive to uphold high standards of conduct for ourselves and from the partners we work with.


To help make it clearer where the lyrics come from, we’ll soon include attribution to the third party providing the digital lyrics text. We will continue to take an approach that respects and compensates rights-holders, and ensures that music publishers and songwriters are paid for their work.


Source: Search


Helpful new visual features in Search and Lens

Sometimes, the easiest way to wrap your head around new information is to see it. Today at I/O, we announced features in Google Search and Google Lens that use the camera, computer vision and augmented reality (AR) to overlay information and content onto your physical surroundings -- to help you get things done throughout your day.

AR in Google Search

With new AR features in Search rolling out later this month, you can view and interact with 3D objects right from Search and place them directly into your own space, giving you a sense of scale and detail. For example, it’s one thing to read that a great white shark can be 18 feet long. It’s another to see it up close in relation to the things around you. So when you search for select animals, you’ll get an option right in the Knowledge Panel to view them in 3D and AR.

ar-search-shark.gif

Bring the great white shark from Search to your own surroundings.

We’re also working with partners like NASA, New Balance, Samsung, Target, Visible Body, Volvo, Wayfair and more to surface their own content in Search. So whether you’re studying human anatomy in school or shopping for a pair of sneakers, you’ll be able to interact with 3D models and put them into the real world, right from Search.

ar-search-visible-body.gif

Search for “muscle flexion” and see an animated model from Visible Body.

New features in Google Lens

People have already asked Google Lens more than a billion questions about things they see. Lens taps into machine learning (ML), computer vision and tens of billions of facts in the Knowledge Graph to answer these questions. Now, we’re evolving Lens to provide more visual answers to visual questions.

Say you’re at a restaurant, figuring out what to order. Lens can automatically highlight which dishes are popular--right on the physical menu. When you tap on a dish, you can see what it actually looks like and what people are saying about it, thanks to photos and reviews from Google Maps.

Consumer_Menu.gif

Google Lens helps you decide what to order

To pull this off, Lens first has to identify all the dishes on the menu, looking for things like the font, style, size and color to differentiate dishes from descriptions. Next, it matches the dish names with the relevant photos and reviews for that restaurant in Google Maps.

Consumer_TrainTicket.gif

Google Lens translates the text and puts it right on top of the original words

Lens can be particularly helpful when you’re in an unfamiliar place and you don’t know the language. Now, you can point your camera at text and Lens will automatically detect the language and overlay the translation right on top of the original words, in more than 100 languages.

We're also working on other ways to connect helpful digital information to things in the physical world. For example, at the de Young Museum in San Francisco, you can use Lens to see hidden stories about the paintings, directly from the museum’s curators beginning next month. Or if you see a dish you’d like to cook in an upcoming issue of Bon Appetit magazine, you’ll be able to point your camera at a recipe and have the page come to life and show you exactly how to make it.

Consumer_BonAppetit.gif

See a recipe in Bon Appetit come to life with Google Lens

Bringing Lens to Google Go

More than 800 million adults worldwide struggle to read things like bus schedules or bank forms. So we asked ourselves: “What if we used the camera to help people who struggle with reading?”

When you point your camera at text, Lens can now read it out loud to you. It highlights the words as they are spoken, so you can follow along and understand the full context of what you see. You can also tap on a specific word to search for it and learn its definition. This feature is launching first in Google Go, our Search app for first-time smartphone users. Lens in Google Go is just over 100KB and works on phones that cost less than $50.

Consumer_LensGo.gif

All these features in Google Search and Google Lens provide visual information to help you explore the world and get things done throughout your day by putting information and answers where they are most helpful—right on the world in front of you.

Source: Search