Call it Google Me if you want, but whatever it ends up being called, we just found some further evidence of Google’s social strategy realized: ‘Social’ Google Image Search.
We were only able to find one account with it enabled, and it requires the user to be logged in, which makes perfect sense, because Google is taking your Gmail info (it certainly looks like Buzz to us) and using that to deliver image results that your friends have posted or (we think) simply linked to. Right now all it is displaying is Google Images, all of the other main searches don’t return any ‘Social’ results. [see the update below, it would seem that this is in fact the realization of an earlier Google promise].
We’ve been trying to dig deeper into all of the details, but the features keeps disappearing on us, so obviously Google is only displaying this very randomly right now.
The ‘Social’ tab shows up in the left hand navigation pane, above the “All Sizes” results, and shows not only the images in the results pane, but also shows the names of the people that it showing results for. So that’s it – Google Me (or whatever) is social search. Yes, Google has done other ‘social’ things to some extent before (like News), but this really just feels way more personal then anything we’ve ever seen from Google before.
Let’s put it another way – this seems to be something you can actually care about, and that to us is the true mark of what ‘social’ is all about. Welcome to the new Google.
We’ve emailed Google for comment and will update when we hear back.
UPDATE: Google emailed us to say that this is old news, and that they announced it in January, and yes, they mention social search for Images. However, we tried with a number of different accounts, and only one had it enabled, and only sparingly, so perhaps Google is only now rolling this out. We’ve emailed them back to find out if that is indeed the case.
Regardless, it would seem that this layout at least is new – for one thing, the left hand navigation didn’t even exist when Google announced this in January. At any rate, the way it’s set up now is very compelling, so it would seem that this was Google’s vision back as early as last year, so if “Google Me” is a concept and not an actually product, this would seem to be a strong step forward to the end goal of making Google more social.
UPDATE #2: Google got back to us and pointed us to this help page about Google Social Search, which basically says that some people get social results and others don’t. Please let us know in the comments if you have seen these kinds of image results while signed in, thanks!