Google AI Efficiencies Expand Across Search, Shopping, Maps, Bard

Google on Wednesday released a variety of updates for Search, Shopping, Maps and Bard aimed at helping people get things done -- from planning, searching, and shopping to traveling.

Detailed queries about a location — restaurants, hotels, or tourist attractions — retrieves a snapshot of information from across the web, reviews, business profiles and photos through its search generative experiment (SGE).

Results from queries now contain aggregate details from those who have submitted to Google. More than 200 million places worldwide are included. The information is submitted from a range of creators.

For example, someone might ask whether a certain restaurant is good for large groups or whether they are vegetarian-friendly -- or perhaps determine a good time to visit a particular landmark to avoid the crowds.

When it comes to making a purchase, a quick search based on the AI-powered snapshot will serve up product descriptions that include relevant reviews and ratings, up-to-date prices and product images.

The experience is built on Google’s Shopping Graph, with more than 1.8 billion listings refreshed hourly. It provides more than 35 billion product listings, with constantly changing products, sellers, brands, reviews and inventory.

Clothing brands can capitalize on a virtual try-on tool introduced today. It uses generative AI to show consumers what a top would look like on a diverse set of real models, while accurately reflecting subtle but crucial fabric details. 

The goal is to reduce the number of returns brands and retailers need to process. Beginning today, the technology is available through Everlane, H&M, LOFT, and Anthropologie.

The National Retail Federation in December 2022 released data showing that last year's returns reached $816 billion.

With technology improving, online return rates fell to 16.5% in 2022 from 20.8% in 2021. Online sales accounted for approximately $1.29 trillion of total U.S. retail sales in 2022. Of the approximately $212 billion of returned online purchases, $22.8 billion, 10.7%, deemed fraudulent.

Google also announced that Immersive View will roll out to new cities and more than 500 landmarks around the world.

Earlier this year, the company launched the tool to change the way people explore using AI to connect billions of images and create a multidimensional view of the world with layers of trusted information.

The tool becomes available today in four new cities, Amsterdam, Dublin, Florence and Venice. The goal is to expand it to more than 500 iconic landmarks worldwide, from Prague Castle to the Sydney Harbour Bridge on Android and iOS.

Users can find it in Google Maps. Where data is available, an inside view of restaurants and cafes can help people make the decision whether or not to make a reservation. The AI technology making this possible is called neural radiance fields, or NeRF, a method for synthesizing views of complex scenes developed by Google.

In addition, Glanceable directions will become available to track a journey from the route overview. With Glanceable directions, Google provides access to updated estimated time of arrivals (ETAs) and show where to make the next turn. This feature starts rolling out globally for walking, cycling and driving modes globally on iOS and Android this month.


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