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It’s Earth Day—take a walk with us.
First, let’s dig into issues taking root in Search. Ahead of Earth Day, “solar energy,” “drought” and “endangered species” climbed in popularity this week. Meanwhile, people are looking for ways their own actions can make a positive impact. The top “how to recycle” searches were for plastic, paper, batteries, plastic bags, and styrofoam. And around the world, trending queries about Earth Day were “how many trees will be saved by recycling?” and “which type of plastic is more friendly to the environment?”
To explore some of the other searches that are blooming for Earth Day, take a look at our trends page.
In our corner of the world, Earth Day celebrations started on Google Earth’s first birthday (tweet at @googleearth with #ImFeelingEarthy and see where it takes you!). The party continues today with a special tribute to Jane Goodall in today’s Doodle, and kids inspired by the Doodle can create their own Google logo, thanks to our partnership with World Wildlife Fund. And while we’re feeling extra Earthy this week, the environment is important to our work all year long—here’s what we’re doing for our operations, our surroundings, our customers, and our community.
Autocomplete is a feature within Google Search designed to make it faster to complete searches that you’re beginning to type. In this post—the second in a series that goes behind-the-scenes about Google Search—we’ll explore when, where and how autocomplete works.
Using autocompleteAutocomplete is available most anywhere you find a Google search box, including the Google home page, the Google app for iOS and Android, the quick search box from within Android and the “Omnibox” address bar within Chrome. Just begin typing, and you’ll see predictions appear:
In the example above, you can see that typing the letters “san f” brings up predictions such as “san francisco weather” or “san fernando mission,” making it easy to finish entering your search on these topics without typing all the letters.
Sometimes, we’ll also help you complete individual words and phrases, as you type:
Autocomplete is especially useful for those using mobile devices, making it easy to complete a search on a small screen where typing can be hard. For both mobile and desktop users, it’s a huge time saver all around. How much? Well:
- On average, it reduces typing by about 25 percent
- Cumulatively, we estimate it saves over 200 years of typing time per day. Yes, per day!
Predictions, not suggestionsYou’ll notice we call these autocomplete “predictions” rather than “suggestions,” and there’s a good reason for that. Autocomplete is designed to help people complete a search they were intending to do, not to suggest new types of searches to be performed. These are our best predictions of the query you were likely to continue entering.
How do we determine these predictions? We look at the real searches that happen on Google and show common and trending ones relevant to the characters that are entered and also related to your location and previous searches.
The predictions change in response to new characters being entered into the search box. For example, going from “san f” to “san fe” causes the San Francisco-related predictions shown above to disappear, with those relating to San Fernando then appearing at the top of the list:
That makes sense. It becomes clear from the additional letter that someone isn’t doing a search that would relate to San Francisco, so the predictions change to something more relevant.
Why some predictions are removedThe predictions we show are common and trending ones related to what someone begins to type. However, Google removes predictions that are against our autocomplete policies, which bar:
- Sexually explicit predictions that are not related to medical, scientific, or sex education topics
- Hateful predictions against groups and individuals on the basis of race, religion or several other demographics
- Violent predictions
- Dangerous and harmful activity in predictions
In addition to these policies, we may remove predictions that we determine to be spam, that are closely associated with piracy, or in response to valid legal requests.
A guiding principle here is that autocomplete should not shock users with unexpected or unwanted predictions.
This principle and our autocomplete policies are also why popular searches as measured in our Google Trends tool might not appear as predictions within autocomplete. Google Trends is designed as a way for anyone to deliberately research the popularity of search topics over time. Autocomplete removal policies are not used for Google Trends.
Why inappropriate predictions happenWe have systems in place designed to automatically catch inappropriate predictions and not show them. However, we process billions of searches per day, which in turn means we show many billions of predictions each day. Our systems aren’t perfect, and inappropriate predictions can get through. When we’re alerted to these, we strive to quickly remove them.
It’s worth noting that while some predictions may seem odd, shocking or cause a “Who would search for that!” reaction, looking at the actual search results they generate sometimes provides needed context. As we explained earlier this year, the search results themselves may make it clearer in some cases that predictions don’t necessarily reflect awful opinions that some may hold but instead may come from those seeking specific content that’s not problematic. It’s also important to note that predictions aren’t search results and don’t limit what you can search for.
Regardless, even if the context behind a prediction is good, even if a prediction is infrequent, it’s still an issue if the prediction is inappropriate. It’s our job to reduce these as much as possible.
Our latest efforts against inappropriate predictionsTo better deal with inappropriate predictions, we launched a feedback tool last year and have been using the data since to make improvements to our systems. In the coming weeks, expanded criteria applying to hate and violence will be in force for policy removals.
Our existing policy protecting groups and individuals against hateful predictions only covers cases involving race, ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, nationality, veteran status, sexual orientation or gender identity. Our expanded policy for search will cover any case where predictions are reasonably perceived as hateful or prejudiced toward individuals and groups, without particular demographics.
With the greater protections for individuals and groups, there may be exceptions where compelling public interest allows for a prediction to be retained. With groups, predictions might also be retained if there’s clear “attribution of source” indicated. For example, predictions for song lyrics or book titles that might be sensitive may appear, but only when combined with words like “lyrics” or “book” or other cues that indicate a specific work is being sought.
As for violence, our policy will expand to cover removal of predictions which seem to advocate, glorify or trivialize violence and atrocities, or which disparage victims.
How to report inappropriate predictionsOur expanded policies will roll out in the coming weeks. We hope that the new policies, along with other efforts with our systems, will improve autocomplete overall. But with billions of predictions happening each day, we know that we won’t catch everything that’s inappropriate.
Should you spot something, you can report using the “Report inappropriate predictions” link we launched last year, which appears below the search box on desktop:
For those on mobile or using the Google app for Android, long press on a prediction to get a reporting option. Those using the Google app on iOS can swipe to the left to get the reporting option.
By the way, if we take action on a reported prediction that violates our policies, we don’t just remove that particular prediction. We expand to ensure we’re also dealing with closely related predictions. Doing this work means sometimes an inappropriate prediction might not immediately disappear, but spending a little extra time means we can provide a broader solution.
Making predictions richer and more usefulAs said above, our predictions show in search boxes that range from desktop to mobile to within our Google app. The appearance, order and some of the predictions themselves can vary along with this.
When you’re using Google on desktop, you’ll typically see up to 10 predictions. On a mobile device, you’ll typically see up to five, as there’s less screen space.
On mobile or Chrome on desktop, we may show you information like dates, the local weather, sports information and more below a prediction:
In the Google app, you may also notice that some of the predictions have little logos or images next to them. That’s a sign that we have special Knowledge Graph information about that topic, structured information that’s often especially useful to mobile searchers:
Predictions also will vary because the list may include any related past searches you’ve done. We show these to help you quickly get back to a previous search you may have conducted:
You can tell if a past search is appearing because on desktop, you’ll see the word “Remove” appear next to a prediction. Click on that word if you want to delete the past search.
On mobile, you’ll see a clock icon on the left and an X button on the right. Click on the X to delete a past search. In the Google App, you’ll also see a clock icon. To remove a prediction, long press on it in Android or swipe left on iOS to reveal a delete option.
You can also delete all your past searches in bulk, or by particular dates or those matching particular terms using My Activity in your Google Account.
More about autocompleteWe hope this post has helped you understand more about autocomplete, including how we’re working to reduce inappropriate predictions and to increase the usefulness of the feature. For more, you can also see our help page about autocomplete.
You can also check out the recent Wired video interview below, where our our vice president of search Ben Gomes and the product manager of autocomplete Chris Haire answer questions about autocomplete that came from…autocomplete!
As cloud adoption continues to accelerate, many organizations have found they need an ever-expanding fleet of mobile devices so that employees can work wherever and whenever they need. And research shows that when employees can work from anywhere, they can do more. According to Forbes, employee mobility leads to 30 percent better processes and 23 percent more productivity.
But as the demand for mobility grows, many organizations have also found themselves challenged by the need to provide secure mobile endpoints with access to certain legacy line-of-business or Windows apps. To help, last year we announced our partnership with Citrix to bring XenApp and XenDesktop to Chrome Enterprise.
Since bringing XenApp and XenDesktop to Chrome Enterprise, we’ve worked extensively with Citrix to help more businesses embrace the cloud. Last month, we announced that admins can now manage Chromebooks through several popular enterprise mobility management (EMM) tools, including Citrix XenMobile. And this year at HIMSS we showed how the combination of Citrix and HealthCast on Chrome Enterprise helps healthcare workers access electronic health records and virtualized apps securely on Chrome OS using their proximity badge.
All of this is the topic of an IDG webinar we’re co-sponsoring with Citrix. The webinar “Chrome OS & Citrix: Simplify endpoint management and VDI strategy” includes IDG CSO SVP/Publisher Bob Bragdon, Chrome Enterprise Group Product Manager Eve Phillips, and Citrix Chief Security Strategist Kurt Roemer as speakers, and addresses how Citrix and Chrome enable access to mission-critical business apps and create a productive workforce inside or outside corporate infrastructure.
Here’s what the webinar will cover:
- How Chrome and Citrix can ensure secure access to critical enterprise apps.
- How employees can be more productive through access to legacy apps in VDI.
- How Citrix XenApp (XA) and XenDesktop (XD) integrate with Chrome OS.
- How Citrix’s upcoming product launches and enhancements with Chrome, GCP and G Suite can help enterprise IT teams and end users.
In March, Citrix’s Todd Terbeek shared his experiences transitioning to Chrome Enterprise, and this week Chief Security Strategist Kurt Roemer discussed how combining Citrix with Chrome can deliver expanded value across security, privacy and compliance. Our work with Citrix continues to evolve, and we’re looking forward to finding new ways to collaborate in the future.
To learn more, sign up for the webinar.
Every Friday, we look back at five trending topics in Search from that week, and then give ourselves a High Five for making it to the weekend. Today we’re putting our hands together for National High Five Day—so first, a few notable “high five” trends. Then on to our regularly scheduled programming.
High Fives all around
Turns out, searches for “high five” transcend all realms of culture: sports (“Why do NBA players high five after free throws?”) entertainment (“how to high five a Sim”), and pets (“How to teach a dog to high five”). As for virtual high fives, “Scrubs,” “Seinfeld” and Liz Lemon are high five famous—they’re the top trending “high five gifs.”
A First Lady, first a mother
When former First Lady Barbara Bush passed away on Tuesday at the age of 92, people remembered her role as matriarch, searching for “Barbara Bush children,” “Barbara Bush family,” and “Barbara Bush grandchildren.” She was the second woman to be the mother and wife of a president; and searches for the first woman to hold that title, Abigail Adams (wife of John and mother of John Quincy) went up by 1,150 percent this week.
What’s Swedish for robot?
Need an extra set of hands? A team of researchers built a robot to help with one of the most challenging tasks of the modern era—assembling Ikea furniture. In an ordinary week, people might search for Ikea lamp, but for now they’re more interested in “Ikea robot.” Though Swedish meatballs are always a favorite, this week’s trending Ikea furniture items were Ikea closets, plants and sofas.
Work it, Walmart
Walmart’s store aisles are turning into runways with the new employee dress code. They can now wear jeans and–brace yourselves–anysolid color top. As for bottoms, people want to know, “Are leggings included in Walmart’s new dress code?” We never (Arkan)saw this coming, but Arkansas topped the list of regions searching for “Walmart dress code” in the U.S. For people wondering about other dress code etiquette, a trending question was “what to wear to jury duty.”
Kendrick makes history
This week people asked “Why is Kendrick Lamar important?” Listen to this: he made music history by being the first non-classical or jazz musician to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music Composition (high five, Kendrick!). And people felt the pull to search for “Kendrick Lamar prize”—interest was 900 percent higher than “Kendrick Lamar song.”
Editor’s Note: Tonight, Google’s Chief Internet Evangelist Vint Cerf will accept a Franklin Institute Award (alongside fellow inventor Robert E. Kahn) for enabling the internet by developing TCP/IP, the set of methods that allows effective communication between millions of computer networks. In the words of the Institute, “Every person who has ever sent an email, downloaded a webpage, or sent a photo to a friend owes a debt” to Vint and Robert. We sat down with Vint to learn more about his prestigious career, what’s yet to come, and what he may be best known for (his daily habit of wearing a three-piece suit).
Tell us about the job that you’ve set out to do at Google (as well as your unique title).
When I first got the job at Google, I proposed to Larry and Sergey (Google’s founders) that my title should be “archduke.” They countered with “Chief Internet Evangelist,” and I was okay with that. My objective was, and still is, to get more internet out there. Google has been very effective in fulfilling that objective so far with CSquared and efforts for the Next Billion Users. But today only half the world’s population is online, and I’ve been told I’m not allowed to retire because my job is only half done.
What are some other things you’ve worked on at Google?
In my years at Google, I’ve had the lucky freedom to stick my nose into pretty much anything. I’ve gotten very interested in the internet of things, and want to foster a deep awareness of what it takes to make those devices work well, while preserving safety, security and privacy.
Since my first day at Google, I’ve been passionate about making our products accessible to everyone, whether you have a hearing, vision or mobility problem (or something else). I’m hearing impaired—I’ve worn a hearing aid since I was 13—and my wife is deaf but uses two cochlear implants. Google has an entire team in place that looks after accessibility across all of our product areas.
Oh, another project I’ve been working on is Digital Vellum, to address my concern about the fragility of digital information. We store our information on various media (think of the evolution of floppy disks to external hard drives to the cloud), but those media don’t last forever. Sometimes the media is ok, but the reader doesn’t work. To make matters worse, even if you can read the bits, if you don’t have the software that know what the bits mean, it’s a worthless pile of bits! Digital Vellum is creating an environment where we can preserve the meaning of digital information over long periods of time, measured in hundreds of years.
That sounds like a lot of work for one guy at Google!
Compared to what a lot of people do, this isn’t much.
What do you like to do for fun?
(It should be noted: When I first asked Vint this question, he excitedly told me about all of the organizations he’s involved with—he’s the Chairman of the Board of the People Centered Internet, a visiting scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, former Chairman of the Board of ICANN, and was appointed to the National Science Board by President Obama. I pointed out that he does a lot of work outside of work—which he clearly loves—and reminded him of my particular definition of fun, to which he responded with the following).
I enjoy reading science fiction (my favorite is Isaac Asimov’s "Foundation" series), biographies and history; wine tasting and gourmet cooking; and small dinner gatherings with interesting people.
I’m just a 19th-century guy living in a 21st-century world.
With this award, you’re joining the ranks of some incredible minds—Nikola Tesla, Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking, to name a few. Of these winners, or anyone who has come before you in the field, who do you most admire?
Alexander Graham Bell, partly because he was so fundamental to communication, and partly because his wife was deaf, and so is mine.
You travel around the world in your role. What’s the most interesting place you’ve visited recently?
I went to Baku, Azerbaijan for an international security conference. It was an amazing gathering of leaders from Eastern Europe and Central Asia, who offered perspectives that enriched the typical Western European views. We discussed cyber-security concerns and social and economic effects of the penetration of Internet into our societies.
Where do you want to travel next?
Lyon, France—wine tasting!!!
Tell us about your formal attire—why do you remain committed to your legendary three-piece suit despite the casual nature of Silicon Valley?
Mostly because I think it looks good. I’m just a 19th-century guy living in a 21st-century world.