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Google unveils real-time search

Updates from social sites will appear in results

By Michael Liedtke
Associated Press / December 8, 2009

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MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. - Fresh information from blogs, news sites, Twitter, and other popular hangouts will appear in Google’s search results more quickly as the company aims to give people a more comprehensive look at what’s happening on the Web.

The feature unveiled yesterday represents Google Inc.’s most significant step in the field of “real-time’’ search - a catch phrase for the torrent of information constantly being shared on blogs and the personal pages of social-networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter.

As those destinations have turned into increasingly popular forums for swapping opinions, offering news tips, and highlighting interesting stories, Google, Yahoo Inc., and Microsoft Corp. have been scrambling to retool their search engines so they reel in and showcase real-time data more quickly.

Google reached a deal in October to blend Twitter updates, or “tweets,’’ into its results, but hadn’t indicated how its system would work until yesterday.

Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, has included a section for tweets since late October. Yahoo began relying on tweets to point out hot news stories in its results last month.

In Google’s version of real-time search, a section of its main results page will include a capsule that automatically scrolls relevant information within a few seconds after it pops up in the Web index. Normally, a new search request was the only way to see the blog posts, status updates, and other information that Google had collected since the previous query. With the change, a person requesting information about President Obama, for instance, will see the usual set of static links, photos, and video, as well as the capsule with pertinent tweets, blog posts, and news stories.

Google’s real-time information eventually will be expanded to include some of the chatter on Facebook and MySpace, the world’s largest social networks.

Although Google announced its partnerships with the sites yesterday, the feeds from Facebook and MySpace won’t appear in the real-time results until early next year, said Marissa Mayer, Google’s vice president for search products and user experience.

Microsoft and Yahoo already have access to some Facebook updates.

Google also provided a preview of a test product, called “Google Goggles,’’ that will enable people to send a photograph of an object and get search results about it.