Google Images Gets a Revamp

I don’t do a lot of image searching nowadays unless I’m looking for a logo or I’m trying to win a bet about sloth toes. (Really, really long story.) But I was intrigued when I read that Google had updated its image search and found the results pretty interesting. (I was also interested to note that Google gives an image index count of over 10 billion images. Do you think we’ll get a Web index size estimate any time soon? Nah, me neither.)

Google’s image search as usual exists at http://images.google.com/. The advanced search lives at http://images.google.com/advanced_image_search and I encourage you to try it if you haven’t look at it in a while; search options include image size, aspect ratio, color, and license types. You can even do some searches for specific image types (like faces, clip art, and line drawings.)

When I first started experimenting with the new search interface, I did a search and then restricted the results to one color. Then I ran a bunch of other searches. I started thinking, “Wow, these search results kind of suck,” and didn’t realize until I was ready to take screenshots that my search results were still restricted to one color. So make sure you’re resetting your search options every time you enter a new keyword.

Anyway, as you’ll see in the screen shot the results are more dense and the thumbnails of the images themselves are larger. Hold your mouse over a result to get a slightly larger version and some information about the dimensions and the original site. If you click on an image, you’ll be taken to a new page that has the image on top, with the site beneath it. There’s still a link to be taken directly to the original images. I had always disliked Google Images’ “image page” as clunky, but I hadn’t realized how awful it was until I used this far nicer one. I think the new one loads faster too. Well done Google.

You can now navigate all search results (up to 1000 per query) via scrolling down a page, instead of loading page after page of images. Just keep rolling down a page and you’ll get set after set of images — unless you scroll too fast. Then you’ll get gray boxes, then a set of images. I like this better than having to reload pages of images, but it can get kind of confusing.

If you’ve been using Google at all you’re probably aware of the sidebar in the search results where you can narrow down your search results. The same thing’s on Google Images. Here you can narrow down your search results by image dimension, type, etc. That’s great, and it’s better search options across the top as I’ve seen in the past. But where’s the option to narrow results by usage license, especially since it seems like just about all the other search options from the advanced page are there?

Google has done a lot of work to pack more into its images search results and to make the landing pages for images more useful. The fact that I have to take a couple of extra steps to find licensed images — unless I start my search filtering by license — looks extra annoying against all this effort. But it’s still worth a look.

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