The company calls it universal search — when you seach for something, you get a blend of results from its different categories — images and video, for instance.
From the release, coinciding with its Searchology event today:
Beginning today, the company will incorporate information from a variety of previously separate sources — including videos, images, news, maps, books, and websites — into a single set of results. At first, universal search results may be subtle. Over time users will recognize additional types of content integrated into their search results as the company advances toward delivering a truly comprehensive search experience.
It does give you more variety per search. It’s also a way for Google to raise the profile of its specialized search categories. I wonder if they were languishing, or if unified search was the goal all along.
Google also announced Google Experimental, a sandbox version of its search service, that will be available at its Labs site.
The company is also tinkering with its home page, so you get a different layout sometimes. Here’s a blog tracking some of the versions.
I liked a version I found last night that did a nifty trick: it enhanced the minimalist feel of its home page while displaying more options through little drop-downs in the upper corner.