Google's new AI-powered search is going to look very different

Google's new AI-powered search is going to look very different
Google's Cathy Edwards speaks at the Google I/O event on Wednesday.Courtesy of Google.
  • Google's new AI-driven search will look and feel different from the familiar list of search results.
  • Users will be able to interact with the search bar in a conversational way and get AI-generated responses.

Google's classic search engine is getting an AI makeover.

For over two decades, the search site has been defined by a plain search bar and a list of results.

At its 2023 Google I/O event on Wednesday, the tech giant unveiled an AI-driven search engine with the overall goal of making "search smarter and searching simpler."

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The search engine will now let users craft prompts as if they're asking questions more naturally. On top of the more familiar list of search results, there will be an AI-generated summary response answering users' questions.

Instead of searching for something generic like "best national parks," for example, a user can type an inquiry as if they are asking a knowledgeable friend about which national park is best to visit with small children and a dog, Google's Cathy Edwards said at the event.


"What's better for a family with kids under 3 and a dog, bryce canyon or arches?" the user asked the search engine.

"Although this is a question that you have, you probably wouldn't ask it in this way today," said Edwards. "You'd break it down into smaller ones, sift through the information, and then piece things together yourself — now, search does the heavy lifting for you."

Edwards described the summary response that the new Google generates as an "AI-powered snapshot that quickly gives you the lay of the land on a topic."

The summary will also include links to sources, and users can choose to look at a different presentation format that breaks down the sources behind the summary, Edwards said.

The AI-generated summary also encourages interaction by offering suggested questions to click on, evoking the experience of an AI-chatbot.


The AI-driven customized results may also reshape how consumers shop online.

For instance, a query asked during the demo about the right bike for daily travel produces not just links to bikes, along with prices and reviews, but also advice about the styles of bikes suited for specific tasks, and some of the features the right bikes need to have.

Edwards emphasized the importance of regular search results still appearing after the AI-generated summary, saying it still directs users to published original content, which she described as part of a "thriving web."

"We know that people will always value the input of other people," she said.

Google is now letting interested users test out the new features through its Search Labs portal, saying that takers would have a "limited time" to do so.


Google has jumped into the fray of generative AI chatbots since it unveiled Bard earlier this year, after OpenAI's ChatGPT bot took consumers by storm, and prompted other companies to tout their own interactive bots or link up with OpenAI.

Back in February, Microsoft unveiled its own AI-driven Bing search engine, powered by OpenAI technology. Bing's search engine chatbot similarly fields queries, and volleys with conversational responses and search results, though users did note in its early days that it seemed to display a bit of a dark personality streak.