Over the past year Google has been pushing the boundaries of its search capabilities in an ongoing field trial. Over that time it has added all kinds of new functionalities. Today, it has announced that participants will be able to pull results from their Gmail contacts from Search.
Google Contacts Search
What this means is that if you have a list of contacts stored away in Google, you will be able to query those contacts, or phone books, which will result in Google search providing answers based on information contained in contacts.
This means that if you have a contact called Joe Blogs in your contact list, to find out information about Joe Blogs, including address and phone number, you can simply ask your phone a questions like, for example, where Joe Blogs lives. Search will provide that answer as well as any other information that it considers relevant.
The new functionality works through Google’s Voice Search interface and will also provide a map to the location requested in your query as well as a phone number that can be used to place a call.
The trial is open to anyone in the US and only in English through Gmail accounts and does not work through Google Apps either although this is a trial and once the final product is tweaked, nothing can really be ruled out.
This is just the latest in a number of additions to the field trial that has been going on for some time now. Last August, for example, it added Voice Search to iPad and iPhone although it hasn’t said how that was greeted by users.
At the same time it also added search to Gmail and tweaked it again on the basis of user feedback last October. The result of that was that users could not only search Gmail, but could also search Google Drive and Google Calendar.
Similarly, users are also able to search from Google.com with the results displaying relevant entries from Gmail as well as documents, spreadsheets and all other kinds of data from Google Drive.
It also integrates with a number of other services like Tickmaster, and OpenTable, although it seems unlikely that it will finish there.
However useful all these new capabilities are, until Google addresses some of the security concerns around them, its success is likely to be limited.
Searching Google Apps, for example, in an enterprise where computers are shared could pose all kinds of problems, while voice search across contacts is also likely to be problematic for reasons of privacy.
It's another step forward in providing users with easy ways of finding information so that alone it should be welcome. Where Google takes this next is anyone’s guess but one thing is sure, it isn't finished.