updated 05:37 pm EDT, Thu September 26, 2013
Algorithm quietly activated in August
Google has announced that its web search engine is now being driven by a new algorithm, known as Hummingbird. The transition to the updated technology occurred sometime last month, affecting approximately 90 percent of worldwide searches, however the company waited until its 15th anniversary this week to make a formal announcement.
The Hummingbird algorithm focuses on understanding the meaning of more complex inquiries, according to comments from Google's senior VP of search, Amit Singhal, at a media event covered by Reuters. Achieving that goal and providing better answers also requires the search engine to extract a deeper level of meaning from information on the Internet.
The move represents the most significant upgrade since the company switched to the previous algorithm, known as Caffeine, early in 2010. Changing the core algorithm follows the introduction of Knowledge Graph, which also aims to understand inquiries and provide contextual results in an organized format.
"Ideally, you wouldn't need to pull out your phone or tap buttons to use Google," Singhal wrote in a blog post. "We're not quite there yet, but you can already do a lot with just your voice."