Google Speaks Languages, WAP, Adds Other Features

Google has unveiled beta versions of its site for non-English speakers and those accessing the web using wireless devices. The search engine has also added new features to its search results and launched a new “university” search engine.

Users can now search for pages in 10 languages in addition to English. They are Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish. Additional language support is planned for later this year.

To use the feature, just choose the language you desire using the drop-down box next to the search box. For instance, select “French,” and only pages written in French should appear. Google’s messages and instructions will also change to match the language you searched in. Additionally, Google will remember your language preferences. Use the “Language options” link on the home page to control your settings.

Google has also become the latest service to cater to the growing wireless market. Nor is the company just playing catch-up. Google’s goes beyond the other WAP search offerings that I’ve seen, which either index or catalog only pages specifically designed for wireless users. In contrast, Google’s WAP service is supposed to translate any document it lists into a format viewable on mobile or handheld devices.

For instance, FAST Search operates a wireless search engine, which lists pages written in wireless markup language, or WML. It excludes ordinary HTML documents from its listings, since those pages probably won’t appear properly on a WAP phone. In comparison, Google presents its normal results, but if a user chooses an HTML document from its listings, the page will automatically be translated into a wireless format. That means Google gives mobile users much greater reach. In addition, Google will continue to translate pages as you move from the initial page.

A new feature added to Google’s search results is the ability to email results to yourself or someone else. Perform a search, then click on the “Email These Results” link that appears at the top of the results page. Enter up to four email addresses, and the results will be sent to those people.

Another feature of Google’s results has been renamed and enhanced. The “Cached” link below each page listed used to bring up an exact copy of that page, as it looked when Google spidered it. The Cached link has become a popular method for users to find copies of pages that no longer exist, and Google still supports it, just under the new name of “Show matches.” The feature has also been enhanced with hit highlighting. When you view the cached copy of the page, the search terms you looked for will be highlighted in yellow on the page.

Finally, you can now perform a search to find matching web pages from within any one of over 40 prominent US universities, such as Harvard, Stanford or even my alma mater, the University of California, Irvine. Go to Google’s University Search, then pick the college you are interested in. I only wish Google also made it possible for you to do a search across all of these universities at once. Perhaps in the future….

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