October 23, 2015

Tech Tango: Google Takes on Mobile, Facebook Takes On Search

By Megan G.

Alphabet has completely surpassed Q3 expectations thanks to Google’s most recent successes with many of its products.

During the earnings call, Wall Street first-timer Sundar Pichai highlighted a slew of Google products and their achievements, including Google Photos’ 100 million user boom, Google Play’s “thriving” atmosphere, and Android Marshmallow’s highly successful release.

Now, what do all of those products have in common?  

They all work best on or were made for mobile devices. 

True, you can use Google apps like Photos on desktop computers, but most users want to access the photo-sharing platform straight from their mobile device.  Switching from your smartphone’s camera straight to a streamlined photo app should be a quick and easy task.  In fact, it shouldn’t take but a moment—a micro-moment.

Google Creates ‘Micro-Moments’ on the Mobile Web

Sundar Pichai.  Image from TechCrunch.
Sundar Pichai went on to announce that Google is focusing its efforts on creating productive micro-moments for mobile web-searchers.  If you’re unaware, micro-moments are basically whatever you do on your mobile device to find answers.  “I want to know…,” “I want to see…,” “I want to find…,” etc. 

Google defines this process as a “consumer journey into hundreds of real-time, intent-driven micro-moments.”  If you search for a definition to save face during an intellectual discussion, that’s a micro-moment.  If you look up a restaurant, drool over its glorious food photos on Google My Business, and then click on its address to jump straight into Google Maps, that’s a collection of micro-moments. 

Got it?  If not, here’s a snazzy, “think with Google” video to serve as an illustration.
TechCrunch elucidates Pichai’s move well, “it’s mobile or broke for Google right now in a lot of ways.”  With Google Voice, Search, Android, and its advancements in cloud computing, Google is becoming an increasingly mobile company.  But they won’t enter the mobile arena without a challenge from the huge contender in mobile:  Facebook.

Facebook’s Steps on Google/Twitter Turf

Facebook has started a series in their Newsroom dubbed “Search FYI,” which will offer regular updates on the network’s improvements of its search functionality.  The series’ premier post announced that Facebook currently boasts over 1.5 billion searches on its platform per day.  The post also declared Search an “important, long-term effort” for the company.

As Business Insider puts it, this post “fires a shot” at Google and Twitter like some Wild West bandit.  

This industry ain’t big enough for the three of us.  Image from Forbes.

To Facebook’s credit, people do often log onto the social network to find out about the latest goings-on in news and gossip—as well as to indulge in (or spit upon) everyone’s two-cents on the subjects.  

For example, we have a unique problem in Southern California—when it rains, everybody flips out.  In traffic, at work, and even on Facebook.  We’re just not used to it, okay?!  Amidst the Facebook status cries of “OMG MY HAIR!” and “HOW WILL I DRIVE THROUGH ALL THIS WATER?” you will also find inundations of this oh-so-clever meme:

Image from Quick Meme. 

New and improved Facebook Search can now sift through all that meaningless drivel to find the actual weather report… or perhaps another news story you wanted to catch up on that is totally unrelated to water falling from the sky.  

Let’s get into what exactly the latest update to Facebook Search has provided for users:
  1. Search suggestions.  The FB version of Google’s Autocomplete.  The engine will offer timely and personalized suggestions as you type.  
  2. Two trillion indexed public posts.  The search tool effectively “cuts through the noise,” or perhaps the rain, to see what the world is saying about a certain topic, in real-time.
  3. Offer real value.  Believe it or not, sometimes Facebook serves as an excellent hub for thoughtful discussions.  Now, you can find “public conversations” on any given link, such as an article or video, shared to Facebook and quickly join in on the debate. 
What does FB Search mean for Google? 

Well, these improvements pull users further into the Facebook app or website, keeping them on the network longer.  In the past, a person might have seen a topic trending on Facebook and gone to Google Search for more information.  I know that the only things I ever thought to Facebook-search were recent acquaintances who wanted to connect online, or an old friend whose life I hadn’t caught up on in awhile. 

With the ability to now search for topics and relevant user posts, Facebook offers a uniquely social yet productive search experience that relieves many frustrations that come along with constant social sharing.  

On the other hand, Google keeps improving its mobile experiences—its micro-moments—to make searching the web with Google products faster and more rewarding.  Both companies are quite the players, and I can’t wait to see the next steps from them in this ever-turning tech tango!

Have you tried any of the Google mobile products?  What do you think of Facebook’s new search function?  Let the Tek Team know in the comment section. 

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