Hey, here are some personalized search results that I might actually like.
Google has been expanding its Universal Search feature for a while, adding images, news stories, and more to its search results. Today the company announced that it’s starting a field trial that will experiment with adding your personal Gmail results as well.
After all, a lot of useful personal information is now piling up in your inbox, so Google plans to make that information available in your web searches (assuming you’re signed in to your account). For example, if you need to access your flight information while you’re checking in, you don’t need to open up Gmail — you can just search for “my flights” from Google, and you’ll get a list of relevant information from your email appearing on the right side of the screen.
Google’s Sagar Kamdar also demonstrated using this feature to check on his Amazon orders to see if a package has shipped yet, and he talked about other services that might be integrated in the future. Imagine not just searching for your OpenTable reservations, but also connecting that information with other data that Google has access to, such as getting reminders of when you need to leave if you want to arrive at a restaurant in time for your reservation.
In the current test, Gmail results are collapsible, and, along with Google’s other personalized results, they can be turned on and off. Google also demonstrated a mobile interface, but cautioned that there will be challenges to making this work on phones while maintaining SSL security.
This comes at a time when Google has been adding a lot of personalized and social features to search, usually tied to Google+, and often meeting with a mixed response from users (or at least from me). While it’s hard to judge the results without playing with the feature for myself, but this sounds like an example of how using other Google services to personalize search can be genuinely useful.
Senior Vice President Amit Singhal said the field trial will be open to 1 million users initially. He said Google would consider integrating this with other email services, too.
The Gmail field test was announced at a press event in San Francisco, where Google also previewed some improvements to its Knowledge Graph feature and an update to its search app for the iPad.
You can sign up for the field trial here.