Google introduced Fr. a series of planned updates to its search and mapping services that reveal the company’s ambitions for augmented reality – and its appeal to a generation of Internet users who are moving away from the company.

New features include ways to search for nearby objects using images and identify physical objects using smartphone cameras. On Google Maps, the company promised people the opportunity to explore detailed 3D digital models of attractions and surroundings before stepping in person. Google shared plans Wednesday on the first day of its annual I / O developer conference, which took place near its headquarters in Mountain View, California.

Google is working to keep its products relevant and growing as users ’needs go beyond text. “Searching should be something you can do anywhere and in any way, using any sense organ,” said Prabhakar Raghavan, senior vice president and head of Google’s product. Google’s main search advertising business continued to grow steadily during the pandemic, despite recent average financial results. However, I / O ads highlight the threats that Google sees as its flagship service.

People in emerging markets are more likely to search using voice features than typing, which has forced Google to invest more in voice assistant. According to Google, young Internet users have begun to turn to social networks for entertainment, as well as for information about world events and daily decisions. “They could start with Instagram or TikTok to figure out where to go for dinner,” Raghavan said. “We see a tendency – even demand – to interact with the physical world.”

He added: “We need to look at our role in this and make sure we don’t linger in the past when the audience is looking for something further.”

Google will start allowing people to use photos and text together in local searches with a new “multi-search” update that uses its computer vision and data resources. This feature identifies products nearby that are likely to appeal to marketers who pay for advertising within a certain geographical proximity to the user.

Lens

And Google is expanding the usefulness of Lens, its feature for identifying real-world objects that investors want to see more input into its e-commerce operations. Google said Lens performed more than eight billion visual searches each month, three times more than a year ago. Raghavan introduced the Lens search feature, promising consumers to find a specific product at a drugstore or red wine label at a local store. “It’s like having an app to manage the world around you,” he said on stage.

The company has also demonstrated a more “fascinating” version of its Maps product. The company said people will be able to zoom in and view the architecture of sites like Big Ben up close, and use the tool to understand what it looks like at different times of the day to guess traffic, crowd size or weather conditions. In the future, developers will be able to create a similar 3D experience. Raghavan stressed that these were early tests, not proof of the next computational milestone. “For this to really turn into a metaworld or something, we need 200 or 2,000 such experiences,” he said. “We’re so early in the game that I don’t want to rush into describing this phenomenon yet.”

We’re so early in the game that I don’t want to rush with a description of the phenomenon yet

This year, Google has shied away from grandiose statements about futuristic virtual and augmented reality tools. Ten years ago, co-founder Sergei Brin jumped with a parachute to a conference in a Google Glass hat; the company demonstrated several VR devices in the following years. All of these projects have been postponed or postponed. Since then, Google has focused more on artificial intelligence and, unlike competing meta-platforms, has been reluctant to exhibit a vision of a virtual world that will replace our own.

Like previous I / O events, much of what Google has generalized is not yet available. Maps features will begin in Los Angeles, New York, London, San Francisco and Tokyo, later they will appear in other cities. New search features will appear later this year. – Mark Bergen and Davy Alba, (c) 2022 Bloomberg LP

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