Did anyone ask for this? —
If you opt-in to generative AI, big, colorful boxes will appear in search.
Google’s “Search Generative Experience” is a plan to put ChatGPT-style generative AI results right in your Google search results page, and the company announced the feature is beginning to roll out today. At least, the feature is rolling out to the mobile apps for people who have been on the waitlist and were chosen as early access users.
Unlike the normally stark-white Google page with 10 blue links, Google’s generative AI results appear in colorful boxes above the normal search results. Google will scrape a bunch of information from all over the Internet and present it in an easy list, with purchase links to Best Buy and manufacturers’ websites.
If this ever rolls out widely, it would be the biggest change to Google Search results ever, and this design threatens to upend the entire Internet. One example screenshot of a “Bluetooth speaker” search on desktop shows a big row of “Sponsored” shopping ads, then the generative AI results start to show up in a big blue box about halfway down the first page. The blue box summarizes a bunch of information harvested from somewhere and lists several completely unsourced statements and opinions about each speaker. In Google’s example, users are never told where this information comes from, so they can’t make any judgment as to its trustworthiness. The links all appear to go to manufacturer websites and below that blue box, about two or three screens down, there are finally links to more neutral external websites. The end design goal seems to be “no one will ever click on an external search link ever again,” and that would force a lot of sites to shut down.
For now, at least, generative AI results are opt-in. You’ll have to open the Google Search app and tap on the new “lab” beaker in the top left. Then you can opt in to ‘Search Labs,’ which includes the ChatGPT-style results. You’ll only be joining a waitlist at that point, and if this works anything like Bard, a full release could be months away. When Google announced the whole “Search Labs” idea, it said the features “will be available for a limited time.”
Listing image by Google