Google Search is getting a huge generative AI upgrade — what’s new and how to join the waitlist
We had heard rumors that Google Search was going to get a serious makeover at Google I/O 2023. Turns out those rumors were true.
Google has unveiled generative AI in Google Search — or Search Generative Experience (SGE). This is a new AI experiment that Google will be rolling out in the coming weeks that adds generative AI capabilities to the existing Google Search platform. Users in the U.S. can join today by signing up for the Google Labs SGE experiment waitlist.
Yes, you heard that right. This new experiment is part of the Google Search platform — it’s not Google Bard. Instead, a different generative AI, which admittedly feels similar to Bard and is also probably powered by the PaLM 2 large language model (LLM), provides you with an AI-powered snapshot in response to your search query.
These AI snapshots will definitely look different than the traditional list of links you’re used to with Google Search. These snapshots will appear at the top of the search engine results page and include links for additional information, Google Shopping results and more within the AI-powered snapshot. So if you were searching for a “good bike for a 5 mile commute with hills,” as Google did in its tech demo, you get an AI-generated text response but you also get a list of Google Shopping results relevant to the search query, all in one space.
You’ll also get the ability to ask a follow up question. This opens up something Google is calling Conversational mode, and if you’ve tried out Microsoft’s Bing Chat AI, it will look at least somewhat familiar. Conversational mode will remember context as you ask follow up questions, so if you ask “ebike in red” it remembers that the ebike in question is one for a hilly, five mile commute. A chat window will also remain available as you scroll down the search results page so you can ask another question with ease.
This is the new Google Search with generative AI and follow up questions. This literally changes everything… #GoogleIO pic.twitter.com/ufDwF9NRv5May 10, 2023
This new version of search is designed to answer more complex questions, so you may end up changing how you search. Treat it like ChatGPT where asking follow up questions and being as specific as possible in your prompts will produce the best results.
Ultimately, if this AI experiment is successful, it could forever change how we search. Unlike Bing Chat, which is still largely separate from Bing Search, SGE integrates right into Google Search and frankly replaces it. We will also start using more prompt-based queries so we get the most out of Search. So if you want to be on the cutting edge of Search, make sure to join the SGE Labs waitlist today (U.S. only). And keep following our Google I/O 2023 coverage for all the latest from Google.
How to join Search Generative Experience Lab
To join the Search Generative Experience Lab, you need to be using a personal Google account and you need to be in the U.S.
On a web browser, go to g.co/labs and click Learn more in the section for Google Search.
On a Android phone, open up the Google app and click the Labs icon (it looks like a beaker) in the upper right corner of the app. That will sign you up as well. You may need to update your Google app for that option to be available (I did).