To understand the patent mess that is gripping Silicon Valley right now, you need to travel across the country to a dark-paneled federal courtroom in Norfolk, Virginia, just down the block from Bob’s Gun Shop.
“The overall visual design of the app was the big thing we thought about when taking this thing apart and putting it back together,” Hogue says. “The goal for any search engine is to help people find the things they’re looking for—that’s the simplest definition of search. Obviously, pictures give you a real visceral feel for what’s going on—so this allows you to very quickly skim through a set of results, and understand very quickly the gist of a place, whether it’s a dive bar or a nice fancy restaurant, or whether they serve beautiful food or just a burger on a plate. Pictures communicate that in a way that raw text just can’t.”
“We’re focusing on the front-end,” says Ethan Batraski, Yahoo!’s director of product. “And in the last few years, the search experience hasn’t evolved much at all. But search is no longer a destination.”
Today Bing is announcing a revamp of its front end, to make its search results more useful for users. But what’s much more interesting is what’s happening on the back end, underneath the hood, as Microsoft re-architects how the data used for search results is collected, stored, and repurposed.
“We decided we needed to reinvent search,” Bing director Stefan Weitz tells Fast Company.
Is that all?
If Google’s to be trusted, Google is the only source you need when Googling around for information. At least, that’s the impression one gets from Google’s new “Your World” feature.
You can’t download an app these days without it asking for your location—and not just on check-in services like Foursquare and Gowalla. Google Maps, Instagram, Twitter, Square, MenuPages, Shazam—they all want to know exactly where you are whenever you’re using the app. Heck, services like Google Latitude won’t even let you decline to share your location—it’ll just put you through an endless cycle of notifications, almost demanding you to accept its terms.
Perhaps that’s why location sharing has become such a huge concern for users, who worry they’re giving out too much data via their GPS-enabled smartphones. According to a report out today by Nielsen, a whopping 59% of females and 52% of males have privacy concerns when it comes to location-based services.