For some time, Google has been experimenting with augmenting search results using personal data through its Search “field trials”, but that’s been limited to data stored only in Google’s own services. Most users have their data stored elsewhere, too. At the TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2013 hackathon today, a browser add-on, called simply “Context,” aims to add more options for personalized search using the APIs from Evernote, Dropbox, Spotify, and Trakt – the latter for searching for info about your favorite movies and TV shows.
The Chrome browser extension was created by Salesforce intern Kartik Talwar, who’s now heading back to the University of Waterloo after eight months in the Bay Area, and Seungho Yang, a designer at the Y Combinator-backed startup Flutter. The team has a thing for practical tools, it seems, having recently won the Angelhack Silicon Valley hackathon for a Gmail inbox organizer called TrySignal.
With Context, the extension intercepts Google search results, looking for specific triggers. In addition to the services listed above, Context can access Google Contacts, too. For example, you can enter a friend’s name then the word “email,” or “number,” or “address,” to have this information immediately appear at the top of Google.com’s search results. But digging into your address book is something Google can already do, which is why the integration with Dropbox, Evernote and other services is perhaps more interesting, and more practical.
To trigger searches for Evernote notes, you enter in a keyword in the note’s title along with the word “notes.” And for Dropbox, it’s a matter of combining a keyword with a file extension (e.g. “resume pdf”). Context can also pull up Spotify previews, and can tell you if your favorite shows are on TV tonight, and more. The team only had 10 hours to work on Context, so it’s not published to the Google Chrome Store yet. But they plan to release the extension in the next couple of weeks – Kartik (@therealkartik) says he’ll tweet when Context is ready to launch.
There are a few services for searching across your personal data, including CloudMagic, FindIt and Younity, for example, indicating there is some interest in this personalized search space. Google Now is another high-profile example, of course. But assuming Context makes it to launch, the benefit here would be that it’s a set-it-and-forget-it kind of thing. After it’s installed, you can basically return to your usual search behaviors, but get better results in return.