Today is the 15th anniversary of Sergey Brin and Larry Page founding a little startup called Google, and the company celebrated by taking the media on a field trip to where it all began: a garage in Menlo Park, Calif.
Once the home of Google’s current VP of product management Susan Wojcicki, she and other Google execs walked onto the makeshift stage in front of a small press group to reminisce about Google’s early days and now 15-year history.
Then, of course, they used the occasion to dive into a host of updates and innovations the company is rolling out.
On top of a sleek new timeline and company history charting Google’s rise to prominence, it also announced tweaks to the Knowledge Graph, adding new search layers and filters, and a new tool allowing it to handle comparison questions.
Google also revealed a quiet changeover in the past month to a new search algorithm named “Hummingbird.” While they avoided getting too technical on how it works, Hummingbird is the most comprehensive overhaul to the search engine since “Caffeine” in 2009. It allows Google to parse long, complex questions more quickly, instead of getting bogged down by each word, and to identify and rank answers from indexed content. That’s not terribly descriptive, but we should have more details soon enough.
Google didn’t skimp on tablet and mobile announcements either. Their iOS app will soon be updated with push notifications and direct reminders, allowing the device to work more predictively (though not to the level of Google Now on Android, where it’s integrated with the core OS).
Speaking of Android, it now has improved Google Now cards and other new features, like recommended websites based on location, real-time sports and flight updates, and expanded reminders.
Did Google use its 15th birthday as free publicity to plug every product update they could think of? Without a doubt. Yet it’s hard to really be mad at them, because if the company celebrated its birthday any other way, it wouldn’t be Google.