Google Multi search is Now Live – Here’s What You Need to Know

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Images power so much of our interactions and knowledge seeking and sharing online today. Whether it’s a photo, illustration, meme, a GIF, or an infographic, visuals work well to inform, engage, educate and entertain, because what they say is true: pictures do speak a thousand words!

So when visuals and images are so powerful – why should our search queries be limited to text? 

Google has now officially rolled out multisearch: a new way to search with images, and ask questions about images, with the help of Google Lens. 

During the Google Search On event in September 2021, the team explained in detail their MUM (Multitask Unified Model), an algorithm created to search the internet across different languages, text, images and media to help users find answers to detailed questions. (You can get a detailed breakdown of the MUM update here.)

And combining text + multimedia search is a key aspect of MUM. So, here’s a closer look at multisearch.

Why Multisearch?

It’s pretty simple: Google has known for a while that sometimes, it’s just not possible to describe exactly what you are looking for in words. You could be looking for a floral pattern in clothing, a tutorial for nail art, instructions on a certain cooking technique, but you don’t know how to explain it in words. 

Multisearch gives you the tools to conduct a search using text and images, together. Maybe you are looking for something similar to what you’ve seen (like a green version of the blue peacoat you saw at a clothing store), or you want to learn more about something you saw during the course of your day (that strange-looking fruit you saw at the farmer’s market that you clicked a picture of). 

How Multisearch Works

The aim of multisearch is to make your search results more valuable/helpful (and closer to what you are looking for). According to Google, “you can ask a question about an object in front of you or refine your search by color, brand or a visual attribute.”

So with multisearch, you get to define your search better (using images) and refine it further (with detailed visual prompts).

Here’s how it works in action.

  • Open the Google app on iOS or Android.
  • Tap the Lens camera icon.
  • Search using a screenshot or photo you’ve taken.
  • Swipe up and add the “+ Add to your search” to add text. 

And just like that, you can search with images and text at the same time! (We have a detailed explanation of how multisearch works for shopping, which you can read here.)

How Multisearch Helps

To put it simply: it can work wonders to narrow and refine your search and give you answers to literally what you are looking for. 

  • Shop with multisearch: A simple example that Google has given is: you come across a dress you like. It’s orange. But, you’d rather buy it in green. You can take a screenshot of the dress, add the text query “green” to the search, and Google will throw up results of green dresses.
  • Learn more and ask questions with multisearch: And it’s not extended to shopping – you can take pictures of things in the real world and learn more about them. For example, combine an image of suede shoes with the text query “care instructions” and you can uncover how best to maintain your shoes. 
  • Discover options with multisearch: Click a picture of your new sofa and add the word “coffee table” to find something that matches it. The possibilities are never-ending!

The Wrap

Google’s aim, along with organising the world’s information in the best way possible, is to make finding and discovering that information easier and more convenient. And combining text with images is a step to giving users a better way to search — and better answers. 

From a user’s perspective, images and text queries can be easily combined for better results and replace the earlier format of searching by only by text or image. It also taps into how we as humans experience the world, and search and enquire about products when we actually shop. 

For the time being, multisearch is available in the United States on both Android and iOS devices (in the English language) but will roll out in other regions soon – so we should be able to experience the power of multisearch sometime this year if all goes well! 

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