Google’s love for AI was on full display at Google’s annual I/O Conference held on 10th May 2023 when Sundar Pichai revealed the tech giant’s latest venture into incorporating generative AI in Google search.
Google is on a mission to catch up with Microsoft, which launched its GPT-powered Bing earlier this year as a way to challenge Google’s dominance on search—since then Bing has been able to claw back some market share—and is calling its latest innovation in search “AI Snapshots”.
Unfortunately, users will have to wait to try out the improved AI search engine, as Google is planning a staggered release of the new feature. For now, only US users can join a waitlist on Search Labs to try out AI Snapshots.
What’s Google AI Snapshot?
In simple terms, it’s designed to provide users with fast and accurate answers to complex questions that would traditionally require the user to conduct multiple Google searches over several hours.
Here’s how you’ll be able to view the new search engine once it’s available to users:
Link to the original Twitter post
Directly under the snapshot, users will be able to see the suggested next steps and can even ask any follow-up questions. When you click on these, you’ll be taken to a conversation mode where you can ask Google for additional information about the topics you’re exploring.
One of the most promising features is that context from one question will be carried to the next question to help you carry out your exploration in a more natural way. It will even give you a range of perspectives that you can dive into for future details.
So let’s go through the main features that Google’s generative AI offers and we’ll also give you our opinion about what this could all mean for you.
Shop with Google’s generative AI
According to Google, the user’s shopping experience is about to get a whole lot faster and easier. Now this is great since over 2.6 billion digital shoppers are crawling the internet looking for the best offers and if Google’s generative AI can improve the shopping experience, that’s a slam dunk!
When users are searching for a product they can get a quick view of the important factors to consider and the products that fit what they’re looking for. You’ll have access to product descriptions that have up-to-date reviews, prices, ratings, and even product images.
So how’s this possible? Because the generative AI is built on Google’s Shopping Graph which includes an excess of 35 billion product listings. This is arguably the world’s most comprehensive dataset that gives people reliable and up-to-date results.
Hear from different sources and get different perspectives
Let’s face it. We’d rather hear about someone’s experience with a product or service before we make our own purchasing decisions. Knowing this, Google has designed experiences that help users find the right content on the web and make it a cinch for people to dive deep into what they’re looking for.
Google also doesn’t overlook the importance of ads and they help users find the products and services that they’re searching for. With one of the most asked questions being whether ads will appear in Google’s new search results, the answer is a clear and resounding ‘Yes!’
These ads will continue to appear in dedicated slots and the tech giant will continue to make sure that search ads can be distinguished from organic search results.
Google’s responsible approach to generative AI
While Google has made it abundantly clear that it wants to keep advancing its progress in AI, they aren’t ignoring the potential limitations. They’re taking a slow and responsible approach since they’re focusing on upholding the high quality of the search results and will continue to make continuous improvements.
As Google has improved their systems over the years, they’re adding more guardrails such as limiting the types of questions where these generative AI capabilities will appear.
If users want to evaluate the information they can expand their view and get deeper insights into how the response was developed making the process more transparent.
What we think Google’s new AI Snapshot means for you
We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves—especially since AI Snapshot has yet to be used by real users. With all signs pointing to Google still updating the AI to make it as close to perfect as possible before it’s open to US users for trial runs, it’s safe to say that the search engine giant is committed to making their contribution to AI top quality.
The information available, however, promises to be a step in the right direction as far as users are concerned. And with in-depth, more transparent features, users have the ability to understand how their results are generated which gives more legitimacy to the generative AI.
Our first impression based on everything we know is that Google’s AI Snapshot is going to be a formidable adversary for other players in the generative AI space since Google is using its impressive datasets to give users an experience unlike any other.
Having said that, it’s wise to have an open mind until we have the chance to experience the new generative AI search engine for ourselves and see if the new transformation is actually helping users find what they’re looking for faster and easier—as promised, or whether it leaves much to be desired.