Google unveils tools to refine news and image searches

Lets Google users see news in graphical timeline, and scan for similar images

Google Inc. Monday afternoon released two new tools that are designed to make it easier for users to find the information - or images - they're looking for.

Both of the new tools - Google News Timeline and Image Search - come out of Google Labs, which was designed to let users try out new features and tools as they are developed and then comment on them.

Google News Timeline, according to a blog posted by Andy Hertzfeld, a Google software engineer, lets users organize results from Google News and other sources in new ways. The tool lets users pull in news results from current sources as well as from archived blogs, newspapers, magazines and even movies and music, Google said. The tool lets users set a time scale to get results from a specific number of days, weeks, years or decades. The scale can also be set to bring in results only from a particular year.

Essentially, the company said, it's a zoomable, graphical timeline of information.

Similarly, the new Image Search tool can be used to more easily find images that might be difficult to put into words for a regular search.

"Using visual similarity, you don't have to refine the text of your search, instead, you can just click on the link of an image you like," wrote Chuck Rosenberg, a member of the Similar Images development team. "For example, if you search for jaguar, you can use the " Similar images" link to quickly narrow your search. You might try exploring the pyramids of Egypt or discovering the Forbidden City. Or you might go shopping for an elegant evening gown or that perfect pair of shoes. So if you see an image you like, but you're stumped on how to describe it, just click the Similar Images link to see more like it."

In the last several months, Google has been focused on adding new features and tools to its products.

In February, the company unveiled an upgrade to Google Maps that allows people to track the exact location of friends or family through their mobile devices. Google Latitude not only shows the location of friends, but it can also be used to contact them via SMS, Google Talk or Gmail.

Then a week later, Google announced that its Gmail software can show the location of e-mail writers.

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Sharon Gaudin

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