This past summer I reviewed the new Google Squared, and came away interested but somewhat disappointed — Google Squared missed information on several of the tests I tried and sometimes inserted irrelevant information. I came away planning not to use it anymore but with a renewed appreciation for a completely different Google product: Google Sets. Google recently announced some improvments to Google Squared, so I thought I’d take another look.
Google Squared is available at http://www.google.com/squared. The new improvements are supposed to include improved quality of information, four times as much data (up to 120 facts in a square), and information filtered for better quality. I started with my query chocolate bars. Google Squared gave me a long list of candy bars. Some of them were not chocolate (the list included Twizzlers and Necco Wafers) but I’m not complaining. The list is far more focused than it was the last time I ran that search. The data points available included name, description, image, and the year it was introduced. Some of the descriptions were a little iffy, and sometimes an item didn’t have information on the year it was introduced (or sometimes there were several possible years and Google Squared didn’t state one.)
The next search I ran was Monty Python cast. Last time I complained because there was no Eric Idle in the list results. This time there was nobody — the square had just one result. I ran another search, this time for just Monty Python. That search also had one result, though in its description it mentioned “Monty Python members”.
So my third search was for Monty Python members and I got a ton of results — cast members mixed in with movies, with details including language, release date, directors, and running time (yes, even for cast members.) And though this time Neil Innes was not included on the first page of the results, NEITHER WAS ERIC IDLE. The “Nudge Nudge” sketch was prominently mentioned but Mr. Idle himself did not appear on the first list of results. Nor on the second page. Yes, a search for Monty Python members got The Great Muppet Caper on the second page of results but Eric Idle, listed by name, is nowhere to be found. Oh, the humanity.
Moving right along. The final search I did was for The Jackson Five. Last time I tried this search I got six Jacksons and Diana Ross. This time Google Squared told me it couldn’t make a Jackson Five Square and asked me for some items to start it off with. So I put in Michael, Tito, and Jermaine. Google Squared happily returned those three in my square but then wandered off into additional items like Elton John, Boy George, Whitney Houston, Kid Rock, Dolly Parton (??!) and, at the very end of the results, “Micheal Jackson.” I went back and added another Jackson (Marlon) to my original list, but that didn’t do anything but slightly change the artists that appeared on the list.
If you do run a search and get a list of results that you want, Google Squared now allows you to export your square to a CSV file or to Google Spreadsheets. You can also save your square if you want to come back and work with it later.
Out of the original three searches I reran two were very disappointing and one was much, much better. I guess the lesson is this: experiment, and see what you can do with more generic searches than cast members and musical groups.