Google Inc. has announced its first steps toward a universal search model that will offer users a more integrated way to search for and view information online. The company also introduced an updated homepage design and several new navigation features.
The company will incorporate information from a variety of previously separate sources--including videos, images, news, maps, books, and websites--into a single set of results. At first, universal search results may be subtle. Over time users may recognize additional types of content integrated into their search results. Google is also in the process of deploying a new technical infrastructure designed to enable the search engine to handle the tasks required to produce universal search results. The company is also releasing the first stage of an upgraded ranking mechanism that automatically and objectively compares different types of information.
New dynamically generated navigation links have been added above the search results to suggest additional information that is relevant to a user’s query. Google’s homepage and a number of applications have also been updated with a new navigation bar to provide access to Google products. Users will see a navigation bar on the top left side of the page with various Google search properties and products including Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs & Spreadsheets, and Picasa Web Albums.