In May this year, Google unveiled Search Generation Experience (SGE), a new test feature that uses its AI technology to provide consumers with condensed search results. The intention was to eliminate the need for visitors to click through multiple websites to get direct answers from Google. SGE’s idea was to allow consumers to ask questions in a more natural and sophisticated way, while still getting correct answers. However, a test by The Verge revealed several problems with the feature:
First, it can be annoying to wait a few seconds for the SGE’s answer to appear. When the search results do load, a colorful box with a loading animation is displayed during this time. As the results load, the colored box grows and Google’s summary appears, pushing the list of links below it. The Verge editor complained that if they weren’t testing the functionality, they’d probably scroll down the page and click on a link straight away, as they found the wait annoying.
Secondly, SGE’s responses are often wordy and unclear. For example, the AI-generated answer to the question “where can I watch Ted Lasso?” is two lines long and accurately informs the user that the show is available on Apple TV+ for $6.99 per month. However, the answer includes irrelevant details. On the desktop, Google shows source cards on the right, but it can be difficult to tell which information comes from which source. On mobile, the card appears below the summary text.
In addition, the answers to the question “where can I buy Tears of the Kingdom?” were disjointed, with large sponsor cards and an unclear list of suggested retailers above the answers. There is no list of games when you click on the shops, and there is no Google map showing where the shops are. The game can also be bought using the three link cards on the right. The results of the search for a second-hand crimson iPhone 13 Mini were also disappointing.
In addition, SGE occasionally fails to return any results, even for well-known search terms. The error message that appears when searching for terms such as ‘YouTube’, ‘Amazon’, ‘Wordle’, ‘Twitter’ and ‘Roblox’ reads ‘Manual Smart Summaries are not available for this search’. Conversely, queries for ‘Facebook’, ‘Gmail’, ‘Apple’ and ‘Netflix’ return results in SGE format, although they also take a while to load.
In general, SGE does not improve the search experience as intended. Users may dislike the feature because it is time-consuming and annoying.