Google has expanded its AI-powered search experience to more than 120 countries and territories including Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Brazil, and Mexico. The search experience is known as the Search Generative Experience (SGE). By using generative AI, SGE seeks to provide an easier way to learn as you browse. For example, SGE provides AI-generated overviews such as summaries and definitions for search queries. Alongside the global expansion, SGE also gets four additional languages. This includes Spanish, Portuguese, Korean and Indonesian.
SGE was launched earlier this year in the U.S. as Google’s answer to Bing Chat, the AI chatbot experience that allows users to interact with web pages using natural language. Bing Chat provides AI-generated responses in complete sentences with references and links provided to user questions. It is available in Microsoft Edge and through Bing Search.
Since its launch, SGE has introduced more key updates enhancing how users interact with content on the internet. This includes new features like AI-generated summaries on long-form content, coding improvements, generating images and writing drafts, providing definitions of unfamiliar words on select topics, and more.
The expansion sees SGE roll out in the Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) region as an opt-in experiment in Google Search Labs.
GM for Search in Africa, Wambui Kinya, says, “With new generative AI capabilities in Search, we’re now taking more of the work out of searching. We’re imagining a supercharged Search that does the heavy lifting for you. This will enable you to understand a topic faster, uncover new viewpoints and insights, and enable you to complete tasks more easily. This Search Generative Experience is the first step we’re taking in this journey, and part of our vision to make Search radically more helpful. We’re excited to bring this to the SSA region and look forward to receiving feedback and iterating on the experience alongside our users over the next few months.”
In addition to the global expansion, Google is also adding new features to SGE. The search giant is testing an easier way to ask follow-up questions directly from the search results page. This will remove the need for opening a separate tab to ask. This will provide an easier way to seek more information or dive deeper into a topic. You should still expect Search ads in dedicated slots. This feature will first be available in English in the US.
Another improvement is coming to the translations feature. SGE will now prompt users for more clarity with ambiguous translation words. This will be useful when you want to ask for a translation of a single word that may have multiple meanings. Additionally, this option will allow you to specify the gender for a particular word. This feature is coming first for English-to-Spanish translations in the US. Google says the feature will expand to more countries and languages in the “near future.”
Finally, Google is extending definitions of unfamiliar words to cover coding and health topics. Previously, this feature only worked when you hovered over certain educational terms in topics on science, economics, or history. With this update, you can hover over certain coding and health terms to preview their definitions or even view related images. This update is rolling out over the next month in English in the US. Google adds, “More countries and languages expected to follow soon.”
How to get started with SGE
SGE is an experiment and new users must enable it by opting in via Google Search Labs. Users in the U.S., India and Japan where the AI-enabled search experience was initially available can access it only through the Google App on both Android and iOS or Chrome on desktop. However, new users can only access SGE via Chrome on desktop. Google says that access for new users through the Google app is “coming soon.”
Noteworthy, the Search Labs page above indicates that the experiment will end in May 2024. Additionally, Google has yet to share the future plans it has regarding SGE and SGE while browsing after the experiments. It will come as little surprise if Google eventually kills the program. However, there are doubts that SGE will be phased out completely. Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai’s sentiment towards SGE followed by the global expansion may mean that SGE will remain for a while. Sundar Pichai has previously commented, “Over time, this will just be how search works.”
It’s still unclear whether SGE will be coming to other browsers. This remains unlikely given others already have their options including the latest Brave’s own AI chatbot called Leo and Bing Search’s Bing Chat.
Update: Included GM for Search in Africa, Wambui Kinya’s quote.