Facing renewed competition from Microsoft and OpenAI, Google is reportedly “racing” to build an “all-new” AI-powered search engine. According to The New York Times, the company is in the early stages of creating a search service that will attempt to anticipate what you want from it in hopes of offering “a far more personalized experience.” The project has “no clear timetable.” However, knowing that Google is also developing a suite of new AI features for its existing search engine under the codename “Magi.”
Among the features Google is developing is a chatbot that can answer software engineering questions and generate code snippets. The company has also experimented with a feature that would allow people to search for music through a chatbot conversation. According to The Times, the company has assigned more than 160 employees to the redesign.
Other new additions “in various stages of development” include a Chrome feature dubbed "Searchalong." It would allow a chatbot to scan the webpage you’re reading to offer contextual information. For example, if you were looking for a place to stay on Airbnb, you could ask the chatbot to tell you what to see and do near your planned accommodations. “GIFI” and “Tivoli Tutor,” another pair of experimental features, would allow users to prompt Google Image Search to generate images and converse with a chatbot to learn a new language. It’s worth noting many of these are features that Google has either demoed in the past or exist on other platforms like Duolingo. For instance, image generation is already available in Slides.
Google reportedly plans to announce Magi next month before introducing additional new features sometime in the fall. That timing suggests the project will make an appearance at I/O 2023. The company plans to offer Magi’s features to one million people in the US before expanding availability to 30 million users by the end of the year.
“We’ve been bringing AI to Google Search for years to not only dramatically improve the quality of our results, but also introduce entirely new ways to search, such as Lens and multisearch,” a Google spokesperson told Engadget when asked about the report. “We’ve done so in a responsible and helpful way that maintains the high bar we set for delivering quality information. Not every brainstorm deck or product idea leads to a launch, but as we’ve said before, we’re excited about bringing new AI-powered features to Search, and will share more details soon.”
Underscoring the importance of Magi for Google, Samsung reportedly told the company last month it was considering making Bing the default search on its devices. The declaration reportedly sent Google into a “panic.” The company’s search agreement with Samsung is worth approximately $3 billion annually. This year, its lucrative search agreement with Apple, the subject of frequent antitrust scrutiny, is also up for renewal.