What is Google Search Labs?
Google Search Labs is an initiative from Alphabet's Google division to provide new capabilities and experiments for Google Search in a preview format before they become publicly available.
The Google Search Labs initiative was announced on May 10, 2023, at the Google I/O conference. Google's foundation as a company has always been search, and the technology has been iterated on for decades by Google's engineers. Iteration and enhancement for the main Google search engine have been kept private by Google until ready for public consumption. With Google Search Labs, Google plans on providing a preview for users of potential future capabilities.
New features available via Google Search Labs are experiments by Google and are intended to help test out ideas with interested users. At launch, there are three experiments in Google Search Labs:
- Search Generative Experience (SGE). One of the initial purposes of Google Search Labs is to serve as a delivery mechanism for SGE. SGE is a new type of generative artificial intelligence (AI) interface for Search. It is powered by Google's Pathways Language Model 2 large language model, which can respond to queries, make recommendations and provide a conversational interface option for search queries.
- Add to Sheets. Google Sheets is an online spreadsheet service offered by Google. With the Add to Sheets Search Labs experiment, users will be able to directly insert a Google search result into a Google Sheets spreadsheet. The goal of this experiment is to provide users with another way to share search information. As part of Google Sheets, the search results can be tracked by users with a spreadsheet and are in a format that can be easily shared.
Google Search Labs is part of Google's larger overall effort to enable users to experiment with new and emerging capabilities while in development. The primary Labs portal lists an array of AI experiments, including the following:
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Google Search Labs use cases and applications
Google Search Labs is an emerging effort, and the use cases and applications are likely subject to change, much as the experiments will over time.
Initial use cases and applications of Google Search Labs include the following:
- Experimentation. The main purpose of Search Labs is to enable experimentation and to try out new ideas. For Google, it enables the company to provide access to some of its preproduction-grade capabilities to help determine what does and doesn't work.
- Awareness. Users and organizations alike can gain awareness of potential future directions that Google might be taking at an early stage, which could help with product and service strategy and development.
- Contribution and comments. Individuals can participate in the experiments, which might help to shape the direction an experiment takes. Participants can also contribute by providing feedback and suggestions on how the capabilities can or should be improved before becoming generally available.
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How do you sign up for Google Search Labs?
Google opened sign-ups for interested individuals to participate in Search Labs on May 10, 2023. Initially, signups are limited only to users located in the U.S.
At launch, the sign-up process does not immediately give users access to the experiments. Rather, it adds interested users to a waitlist for access to the actual experiments, which Google expects to open over the course of May and June 2023. Users can sign up to the Google Search Labs experiments via Google Chrome running on the desktop or via the Google app on both Apple iOS and Android mobile operating systems.