Fifteen years after Google Inc. was started by two Stanford graduate students, the giant Internet company on Thursday used the Menlo Park, Calif., garage that housed the company’s first office to show off some recent advances in its search technology.
The changes include a subtle redesign of the Google mobile apps for Android and Apple devices, intended to make it easier to ask spoken questions in more conversational phrases. Google is also adding a feature that will show clickable samples of songs or works of art in a carousel across the top of a computer screen, in response to questions about music or art.
Another new feature will show comparative information, side by side, when users ask about the nutritional qualities of two foods, for example. And in a change that is less obvious, but perhaps more significant, Google senior vice president Amit Singhal also disclosed that the company has revamped its algorithms to accommodate more complex searches, in what he described as the most significant overhaul since 2010 in the underlying formulas that power Google’s search engine.
Google fielded nearly 67 percent of all Internet search queries in the United States during August, according to the comScore tracking firm, while the nearest competitor, Microsoft’s Bing service, handled just under 18 percent.
But new rivals have emerged. Some analysts view Apple’s voice-activated Siri as a potential threat to Google, since Siri performs a number of tasks by using mobile apps and specialized databases such as Yelp. Until recently, Siri used Google to search the Web, but with the latest upgrade to Apple’s mobile operating system, Siri now uses Bing as its primary search engine for the Internet — although Google Search is still a popular app on Apple devices.