engine Stories April 30, 2015

The Knowledge Graph is a controversial—but now fundamental—part of using Google, and for most casual browsers of the web, it’s nothing but an added convenience. It already does a great job of figuring out which pieces of information are most important and accurate, and gives them to you directly within the Google search page—there’s no need to go digging through countless results to find what you want. I myself even find it useful very often, usually when I’m searching for specific facts. Something like “When was George Washington born?” is a great example.

But I’m also wary of how intelligent it has gotten in recent years, and how much more integral to the Google experience it is becoming. Not only is Google pulling content from crowd-sourced Wikipedia articles, it is now getting smart enough to pull some of the content I’ve written on this website. Knowledge Graph has been known to bring death to many pages hosting all kinds of content, with lyrics websites being the perfect example. But what happens when Knowledge Graph and its Quick Answer box are so smart that you don’t need to browse the web at all?

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engine Stories December 9, 2014

Google search in Chrome for Android gets 100-150 milliseconds faster thanks to reactive prefetch

Google has today announced that a new feature called reactive prefetch has been rolled out to mobile search, making searches somewhere in the realm of 100 to 150 milliseconds faster—a notable improvement if you’re on a fast enough internet connection. Sadly, the feature is limited to those using the Chrome app for Android at the current time because, according to Ilya Grigorik, “it is the only browser that supports (a) dynamically inserted prefetch hints, and (b) reliably allows prefetch requests to persist across navigations.”

This is a powerful pattern and one that you can use to accelerate your site as well. The key insight is that we are not speculatively prefetching resources and do not incur unnecessary downloads. Instead, we wait for the user to click the link and tell us exactly where they are headed, and once we know that, we tell the browser which other resources it should fetch in parallel – aka, reactive prefetch!

How does the feature work? Unlike other prefetch methods, reactive prefetch will wait for the user to click a link so that Google knows exactly where they intend to go, at which point the search engine will tell the browser to fetch certain parts of the page in parallel—namely, resources that Google has determined are likely to slow page load times. This is possible due to Google search crawlers getting an idea, for every page on the web, what parts should be “hinted” at to prefetch reactively.

You may or may not notice the improvement, but it’s rolling out to mobile search for Chrome on Android today.

engine Stories October 21, 2013

Google announced a mapping tool for small businesses. Dubbed “Google Maps Engine Pro,” the new software allows users to easily create maps based on any set of data they want, such as sales data, client offices, and more. Along with this new product the company announced a few additional features for the standard Maps Engine. These features include a new Android app that allows users to access their data on their mobile devices, as well as tools for importing data from older systems to the Maps Engine. These features are available to users of all versions of Maps Engine.

Google has also introduced a new account type that lets users test the features of Maps Engine for free before committing to anything. The “introductory accounts” function exactly like a standard account, but limit the number of map queries allowed each day.

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Deal: Get Pixelbook at 25% off: $750!

engine Stories April 3, 2013

In a surprise announcement made at the Chromium Blog today, Google announced that Chrome OS, Chrome, and Opera will use a new rendering engine titled ‘Blink’. Blink is based of the current rendering engine WebKit. Google states the change is “not an easy decision,” but the change is necessary due to a ‘slow down of innovation.”

Google seems quite apologetic in the blog post, noting it understands the change may have significant implications for the web, but hopefully, in the long run, it will improve the health of the open web ecosystem.

It noted that the change will have little impact in the short-term to developers and Internet users, but Google hopes that the removal of the “multi-process architecture” will simplify the engine’s code and ease the difficulty required to develop for Chrome and Chrome OS. Ultimately, Google also hopes the new engine will speed up Internet load times.

The full press release via the Chromium Blog is available below.

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