24.4.10

Software Review: Google Squared

New Search Features from Google, Inc.

Google has plenty of cool little features which populate its domain.

The newest one to hit search is Google Squared.

What do you get when you combine a spreadsheet with a search engine?

What Google has done is to combine spreadsheets with searching.

Try it out.

Google searches your query across the web and compiles your results into a spreadsheet replete with categories.

I tried to search bars in New Orleans.
Snapshot of Google Squared results on bars in NOLA

Could be helpful if you're creating a travel guide.


How about Academy Awards for Best Picture?

Recipes for grilled shrimp?

It does those queries pretty well.

How does Google Squared Work?

Google extrapolates data from existing websites. For example if I search for "Academy Award Best Picture winners" Google takes snippets from websites to create captions with visuals. The description for Best Picture winner comes by default from Wikipedia but I can alter where Google fetches results by choosing an alternative source.

I can also add or delete fields as well. For my Best Picture square I can add run times for each film, language, country of origin and other fields.

Don't expect much for "future dates" or "winning lottery tickets" though.

The search feature is cool though it's still obviously experimental. It's not so great when I need to modify data. I found it difficult to add new fields that Google had not created by default.

But, it works well for getting started on a research project. Or for brainstorming quick ideas.

It also works well when the search engine "understands" your query. Sometimes you create a square, say, best colleges for basketball scholarships, and you end up with a list of basketball players. Not necessarily what you're looking for.

The great thing about Google Squared, however, is the ability to create a Square and export it as a Google Spreadsheet so you can save your work for later, tweak fields, or add data later to sophisticate your list. Once a Square has been exported, I can share my results, post to a blog, or even create a durable weblink like any other Google Document.

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