Google is testing improvements to its Gmail search functionality which will see your emails appear in its regular search results page, sort of.
We first reported on this back in August, when Google announced that it would be integrating its separate Gmail and regular search systems for logged in users. Last night Google seems to have expanded the “field trial” and is notifying more users that they can participate (if the trial is available to you, you’ll see notification when you click on the search box in Gmail). This combination comes as Google is working towards making search results more personal.
You could accuse Google of burying the lead in its field trial announcement page, rather than concentrating on the personalisation of Google search results Google is promoting the improved search results which will be available to Gmail users. And, to be fair, these improvements are much needed. Google’s Gmail search results now include previews of emails and profile pictures of your contacts. Google Drive files are also shown, along with a preview of their contents.
Gmail users have always been able to use Gmail’s search field to search the web (but we imagine very few actually did use this feature). This will be the first time that users will be see results from their inboxes appear in their regular Google search results page (SRP). In its announcement of the Field Trial Google says that users’ Google Drive content will also be visible to users on the SRP.
The new combined search system will come with additional features, which include the ability to index inbox data, including “information and statuses for your upcoming flights.”
The question is, do we really need this integration? I often let friends’ use my computer or tablet to search with and sometimes use their machines but I’d think twice about letting them use my machine if my emails start appearing in search results. That said, we imagine that when this does roll out it will be opt in rather than the default option.
The trial is open to English language Gmail users who are using Google.com (not google.co.uk or google.ie) as their search engine. If you’re interested you can sign up on the Search Field Trial page.