DuckDuckGo, the privacy-focused search engine whose popularity grew last year following the NSA and PRISM leaks, is today rolling our an updated interface for its website, which features “smarter search,” plus a new, cleaner design and improvements related to photo search, video search, place search, and more.
Key to the new release are a number of features users have been requesting, including images, local search, auto-suggest, and others, explains CEO Gabriell Weinberg. These changes are meant to take DuckDuckGo another step closer toward being more competitive with search giant Google – at least for the smaller user base who chooses DuckDuckGo because of its un-creepy policies.
The search engine, for those unfamiliar, doesn’t use tracking cookies and doesn’t save a record of your IP address, among other things.
The company has recently benefitted from consumer awareness around Internet privacy, and the government’s involvement in collecting data from major Internet companies. Before Edward Snowden’s revelations, DuckDuckGo saw 54.4 million requests per month. The month after, it exploded to 105.6 million requests. Today, the company says they received over a billion searches last year, and have tripled their searches since just last summer when the revelations began.
Images, Videos And Places
At the top of a DuckDuckGo search results page, there are now links to specific verticals, like images, video, audio, or places for example, depending on the type of search. The company demonstrates some samples searches here, with a search for “Daft Punk,” for instance, directing users to links, photos, video, audio and products, as well as showing 34 track thumbnails in a scrollable interface at the top of the page, plus a link to SoundCloud.
For a place search, like “thai food in San Francisco,” DuckDuckGo now displays a big map interface, with thumbnails of various eateries and other details, including name, address, phone and star rating (from Yelp) below.
Image and videos have their own search verticals where you can now view individual files without leaving the page – there’s even a handy “download file” button available, saving you the trouble of a right-click.
Instant Answers For Fact-Based Questions, Weather, Recipes and More
DuckDuckGo has also added a new recipe search feature that lets you type in in a type of meal, and get pointed to specific recipe photo thumbnail links aggregated from recipe search sites around the web. And a weather search will now offer instant answers for a query like “weather” followed by a city name.
Search is also “smarter,” too, with a new “Meanings” feature that helps you better narrow down possibly ambiguous search terms by breaking up search results into categories, or letting you choose a particular search filter with a click. For example, a search for “orange” could mean the color, the fruit or could be part of a longer search query, like “Agent Orange” or “Orange Revolution.”
Another major improvement in terms of smarter search comes from DuckDuckGo’s instant answers implementation, where the best answer for a straightforward question is flagged at the top of the search results, just like on Google. Weinberg explains that the company is now laying the ground work for the future of DuckDuckHack, its “open-source instant answer platform that anyone can contribute ideas or code to,” he says.
The way this works is that the DuckDuckGo community helps to figure out the best sources for each type of search, and then the company’s technology gets those answers and puts them above the links in the answer bar.
“In essence, the approach we have taken is to partner with as many data sources as possible and showcase a partner’s unique data as the answer, which is extremely useful for our users and good for them as well,” says Weinberg.
He adds that the new version of DuckDuckGo today works great on the mobile web, and that the iOS and Android apps will also be getting an update soon. For now, you can check out the update from DuckDuckGo’s main site here.