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Circle to Search

1 February 2024

Moshiko Ophir

Have you heard about Google's new search tool?

Our smartphones grant us free access to global information, enabling us to search for products, solve problems, make purchases, learn new skills, and more. Immediacy is crucial during the search process, and switching between applications can create a tedious sense of interruption in the ongoing activity of discovering information.


This is precisely why Google is introducing Circle to Search, a new feature for Android smartphones, that provides a unique way to search for information directly on the phone's screen without leaving the current app.


The search is seamlessly conducted by means of actions such as highlighting, scribbling, or tapping the search item to retrieve more information. This function can be viewed as an extension of Google Lens, focusing not on searching for real-world items but rather on those currently displayed on the smartphone screen. For instance, while watching a video and noticing someone wearing intriguing shoes, you can use the new function to circle, highlight, doodle, or tap the item for a Google search. Google's algorithm analyzes the selected content and presents relevant search results, including text and images, directly within the app pane. You can explore everything, from recognizing an object in a photo to obtaining more information about an actor in a video. The search results appear as an additional layer on your phone's display, and once you have utilized this layer, you can close it and seamlessly continue your operations.


Another feature of Circle to Search is MultiSearch, enabling users to combine words and images to find more intricate answers. For instance, you can mark a picture of the Tesla electric vehicle and then pose the question, "Why is this vehicle so popular?". Utilizing Generative AI, the tool comprehends the popularity of the presented vehicle and immediately provides results. MultiSearch expands the capabilities to acquire abstract information, encompassing concepts, ideas, and topics, rather than solely locating information about the specific item on display. Summarized answers conveniently appear in the answer box without requiring users to scroll through numerous results pages.


Google believes that the AI's ability to access search from any app will be pivotal, eliminating the need for users to interrupt their current activities in order to initiate a search or take a screenshot as a reminder for later.


However, the introduction of this tool coincides with a decline in the use of Google's basic search function. An increasing number of users are turning to AI chatbots, such as GPT chat and similar options, to enhance or even replace traditional searches. This prompts Google to entice users to explore their new AI tool, which boasts intuitive usability and delivers instantaneous results.


As we witnessed the significant breakthrough of AI-based chatbots last year, this year promises a plethora of innovations, making artificial intelligence more accessible on smartphones and hardware. Microsoft is also making strides in this direction, having announced Copilot, its artificial intelligence assistant. Various companies are exploring ways to make AI more practical and user-friendly.


The transformation of the Android smartphone platform into a search surface by Google is a noteworthy statement, signifying a profound shift in the search for knowledge through deeper integration with the smartphone's operating system. Anticipate more surprises!


Sources:

Google’s Circle to Search is a dead-simple way to find what you’re looking for

Google unveils Circle to Search for Galaxy S24 and Pixel 8 — here’s how it works

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