Talk about a star search.
I'm in Google's Silicon Valley headquarters, and software engineer John Taylor is waving his Android powered G-1 phone around, making a small circle around us as he tracks down Gemini. Seems Gemini is far off to the right. For those of you who prefer to lean just slightly to the left, the moon was an easier target. All on the phone.
I've played with smart phones before, and done a billion Internet searches, but this might be the coolest. Using GPS to figure out where you are, then plotting out the stars, planets, and constellations around you. Where do we sign up?
Not so fast for most of us, says Taylor; this app only works on Android. Oh, and by the way, Taylor put this one together in his spare time. Google encourages that sort of thing.
In case you're wondering, Google is also not willing to sit and rest on its laurels. Perhaps hearing the footsteps of Mr. Woolfram coming up behind it, Google unleashed several new ways to find information on line. Called "Searchology," it's becoming an annual way for the dot com giant to, as search VP Marissa Mayer says, "pull the kimono back," and show us new ways to "slice and dice" our search results.
Take "Wonder Wheel." Kind of like what excite.com was doing before it went off the radar, Google's Wheel lets you veer happily off-topic as you spider off into tangents away from your original search. Or, "Timeline," a way to measure how many queries a topic gets by time, date, whatever. Helpful? Maybe. Cool time-waster? Most definitely.
Searchology showed a different side of Google than what we usually see. For one thing, the company seemed humble. If you can't find exactly what you're looking for online, Mayer says, "it's our problem, not yours." That's refreshing. Barely referencing the upcoming Wolfram Alpha engine (expect to say they're respecting its secrecy), Google has to know that being the biggest company means being the biggest target.
Not willing to sit back behind its famously high walls, Google decided to knock things down a bit, showing us that the innovation that made it great in the first place is still there.