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Google search gets more personal with flight status, packages, photos, and more

Google search gets more personal with flight status, packages, photos, and more

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Encouraged by results of its yearlong "field trial," Google is bringing personalized results from Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google+ directly into Google search. Starting today, users will be able to get information about flights, reservations, and package deliveries, among other categories. The new search results, which previously required opting into a trial, are now included by default for signed-in users unless they opt out. It's part of an effort to ensure Google's results stay relevant as "smart calendars" and other personal organizer apps work to elbow traditional search out of the way.

As with Google Now cards, the expanded personal search results emphasize logistical information — particularly things you might be looking for while you're away from a desktop computer. In addition to appointments and travel documents, search results now include flight status, reservations, and receipts from online purchases. To find them, you can use the natural-language queries that Google increasingly emphasizes, either by keyboard or by voice. Whether you enter "What's my schedule tomorrow" or "What's going on tomorrow," for example, Google will still return a card that shows any appointments you have stored in Google Calendar.

Search 'my photos of sunsets' and Google will try to find them

The new results also allow you to search any photos you have stored in Google+, using the same natural-language queries. "Show me my photos from Thailand" will bring up those pictures based on location metadata, for example. And that's not all: "You can also ask for 'my photos of sunsets' if you want to show off the shots you've taken over the year; Google will try to automatically recognize the type of photo you're asking for," the company said in a blog post.

To start with, the new results will be available to English-language users in the US on desktop, tablet and smartphone. Users can opt out of the new results in two ways: per search session, by clicking the globe icon at the top of search results, or permanently, in the "private results" section of search settings.

The field trial will go on

Not everything from the field trial is coming to all users, at least for now. Google Drive documents aren't searchable outside the trial, the company said, although they could be coming later. The trial will continue as a kind of "alpha channel" for search improvements, Google told The Verge.

For the most part, Google's new search results show you information you already had stored somewhere else. But with the update, that information becomes significantly easier to find — and, more importantly, makes you less likely to go looking for it in someone else's app.