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Thursday, May 11, 2006

Google Desktop 4 (beta)

The Desktop team at Google is working at a frenetic pace. Just yesterday (well, in March actually, but pretty close) I was looking at version 3. But hey, it's a free service that delivers plenty of whimsy as well as useful little applications—Google calls them gadgets. The three new products – Google Co-op, Google Desktop 4, and Google Notebook – advance the state of the art in search by helping users worldwide find and share more relevant information. The products all incorporate new capabilities that leverage user communities, enabling users to either share more information with others or benefit from other users’ expertise to improve the accuracy of search results. The company also introduced Google Trends, a new tool that enables users to examine billions of searches conducted on Google to gain insight into broad search patterns over time. Google Co-op beta is a community where users can contribute their knowledge and expertise to improve Google search for everyone. Organizations, businesses, or individuals can label web pages relevant to their areas of expertise or create specialized links to which users can subscribe. Once a user has subscribed to a provider’s content, all of that provider’s labels and subscribed links are added to the user’s search results for relevant queries. These contributions serve as meta information that helps Google’s search algorithms connect users to the most relevant information for their specific query. Users interested in contributing can get started at Google Desktop 4 beta – available in English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Dutch, and Brazilian Portuguese – offers another way for users to improve their search experience, by personalizing their desktops with the introduction of Google Gadgets. These gadgets are mini-applications that reside on users’ desktops and deliver a variety of personalized information such as games, media players, weather and news. Google Desktop can also recommend new gadgets and can automatically create a personalized homepage for users based on the subjects they frequently search and access. Available today from Google Labs at http://www.google.com/trends, Google Trends builds on the Google Zeitgeist to help users find facts and trends related to Google usage around the world. Google Trends enables users to learn how popular a particular search term has been on Google over time and see the relevant news articles that ran on that subject. Google Notebook is a simple way for users to save and organize their thoughts when conducting research online. This personal browser tool permits users to clip text, images, and links from the pages they’re browsing, save them to an online “notebook” that is accessible from any computer, and share them with others. Google Notebook is an interactive scratch pad for every website a user visits, offering a single online location to collect web findings without having to leave the browser window. For example, if a user were planning a vacation, she could clip the most relevant materials on the pages she visits and add personal notes to help organize all of her research. Users can make their Google Notebook public and share the notes they’ve taken with others. As a result, the time and effort put into their research can be harnessed by the online community as a whole. Google Notebook will be available next week from Google Labs at http://www.google.com/notebook.

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