Google's Autocomplete May Soon Include Contextual Imagery

Google appears to be testing a new enhancement to its browser-based search's auto-suggestions which would bring images and descriptive text to the feature. That's based on new commits and an associated chrome flag setting spotted in Chrome's Canary channel by Google Plus user François Beaufort, who posted about the discovery on May 4. It goes without saying that because this is an experimental feature, it is not necessarily going to be very stable. Moreover, it requires the canary channel of Chrome, which it is only recommended that advanced users access. In any case, this applies specifically to the Google Chrome feature which shows auto-complete options when users begin to type a search query into the URL bar - which Chrome refers to as an "Omnibox." Once enabled, it would show an accompanying image with relevant search terms as they are filled out and alongside auto-complete suggestions generated by Google's search algorithms and common searches. That would effectively provide a visual reference, which could speed up searches significantly and provide context for the search terms offered.

For those who are already on the canary channel of the browser, getting the feature activated is relatively easy. Users just need to navigate to the appropriate hidden settings page and set the setting to "enabled" instead of its default setting. That's located at "chrome://flags/#omnibox-rich-entity-suggestions" for direct access or it can be searched for at the "chrome://flags" page using the keyword Omnibox. Once the appropriate flag has been enabled, a restart will be required for Chrome to implement the change completely. After restarting Chrome, performing a search in the URL bar should show the feature at its current state of development. It's worth bearing in mind that there may be some queries that don't return the associated thumbnail images and descriptions alongside suggestions. Moreover, there's a chance it won't work in every version of the Canary channel. For example, it doesn't appear to be available for the Android app just yet.

It bears repeating at this point that, as with all experimental features, this one could ultimately be dropped by the company. The hidden features tend to undergo massive changes with every new release of Chrome and more often than not flags are removed without ever making it to the stable channels of the software.

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Daniel Golightly

Senior Staff Writer
Daniel has been writing for AndroidHeadlines since 2016. As a Senior Staff Writer for the site, Daniel specializes in reviewing a diverse range of technology products and covering topics related to Chrome OS and Chromebooks. Daniel holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Software Engineering and has a background in Writing and Graphics Design that drives his passion for Android, Google products, the science behind the technology, and the direction it's heading. Contact him at [email protected]
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