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This article was published on October 16, 2020

Google Search is getting a new AI-powered spell checker

The Big G also unveiled new improvements to highly specific searches

Google Search is getting a new AI-powered spell checker Image by: PhotoMIX Company from Pexels
Thomas Macaulay
Story by

Thomas Macaulay

Writer at Neural by TNW Writer at Neural by TNW

Google yesterday announced a range of AI-powered enhancements to its search engine, including a new algorithm that improves spelling corrections.

The tool uses a deep neural net with 680 million parameters to better understand the context of misspelled words. It runs in 3 milliseconds — faster than one flap of a hummingbird’s wings, according to Google.

The algorithm will be incorporated in Google’s “did you mean” feature by the end of the month. Cathy Edwards, VP of engineering at Google, said it will improve the feature “more in this one day than it has the last five years combined.”

Credit: Google
Google says one in 10 search queries is misspelled.

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Google is also using AI to improve highly specific searches. These currently don’t always produce the results you need, if the answer isn’t the main focus of a page.

[Read: Google now lets you hum to find that song stuck in your head]

But Google has now developed a way of ranking not just web pages, but also individual passages on the page. This enables the system to zoom onto the relevant section and pick out only the relevant content. Google says it will improve 7% of search queries across all languages when it rolls out next month.

Credit: Google
The new capability allows Google to understand that the passage on the right is more relevant to the query than the broader page on the left.

Another update is designed to understand the subtopics around a broader search. For example, when you search for “home exercise equipment,” the system will deliver more specific results, such as budget and smaller gear. This feature will start rolling this out by the end of this year.

Credit: Google
Google says 15% of daily search queries have never been seen before.

Another upcoming Google feature will automatically tag key moments in videos, so you can flick through them like chapters in a book. The company expects 10% of searches to use this by the end of 2020.

Credit: Google
The tags could help you find a specific step in a recipe or the winning moment in a sports game.

Google is also adding a new COVID-19 safety feature to Google Maps. The company says you’ll soon get to see live how busy a place is directly in the map, without having to search for a specific business, which could be handy for anyone trying to avoid crowds during the pandemic.



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