Google Related Collects Relevant Content at the Foot of Chrome
Google has released a new service entitled Google Related, a "browser assistant" Chrome extension intended to direct users to webpages on the same topic as the one they’re currently viewing. While some applications of the service, like getting extra info during a restaurant search, are useful, some others produce unhelpful suggestions in a framework that should be more trainable than it is.
Once you have the Google Related extension installed, a bar will begin appearing along the bottom of certain types of pages, such as news, shopping, or restaurant websites. Various tabs allow you access to content related to that page–visiting a restaurant’s website may produce a tab with a Google map of the restaurant’s address, a second tab with reviews, and a third tab of related locations (as identified by Google Maps).
The restaurant website suggestions are the most coherent, as the previous list nails exactly what I’m looking for when I look up a restaurant. But some of the tabs are too selective and Google-centric (unsurprisingly), as when the Reviews tab produces Google Places reviews and links to the Urban Spoon page, but not to Yelp.
Visiting a page with a news story will produce a dropdown (or more accurately, a shoot-up) of culled news stories on the same topic from other sources. The displayed stories seem limited to the most recent updates you might find at the top of a Google News search, a format better for the rarer breaking stories than authoritative ones getting picked up over and over in brief by multiple news outlets. The pullquote in the HTC vs. Apple-produced tab above is a nice feature, but the content is only barely related to the story.
What the extension lacks the most is the ability to train it. Links offered from the Related bar are +1-able, but if you click the "View More Articles" link from the story above, you get a get a long list of stories from various outlets that can’t be +1′d. This strikes us as a prime opportunity to teach Google Related which sources you trust or would like to see in your related news tab when you visit a news story. Still, true to Google form, Google is collecting statistics on the project, so we may be training it more than we know.
Given Google’s recent "more wood behind fewer arrows" declaration, the only-partially-useful Related is a mystifying addition to the company’s product slate in its current state. The extension is available today for all Chrome users.
This article originally appeared on Ars Technica, Wired’s sister site for in-depth technology news.