Google Provides Weather (And Why Google’s Interface Will Need to Change)

I learned from Boing
Boing
today that Google now provides four-day weather forecasts. Just
type "weather, city, state". Or "weather, city" if you live in a city with a sufficiently
unique name. For an example, check out the beautiful
weather we’re having in San Francisco
right now.

What really surprises me about Google is not so much that they are trying to do
everything (and certainly doing a reasonably good job at it), but that they are
doing it with such an unusual interface. For instance, any other site in the world
would have you click on a weather link, then type in your city or zip code. Or
in order to get movie
information
, click on a movie link first, then type in your search terms.
Google clearly identifies very strongly with the Unix world since searching Google
often has the feel of entering a Unix command followed by arguments. I predict
that Google will eventually need to modify their famously simple interface to make
all the search options more prevalent. As Google becomes more complex and versatile,
the simplicity of the interface is actually going to start working against the
experience rather than for it. Ironically enough, I think
Google will eventually need to create a more involved and consistent interface
in order to actually simplify it.

6 Responses to Google Provides Weather (And Why Google’s Interface Will Need to Change)

  1. Doug Hughes says:

    I’m not sure I agree with you on this. One of the major advantages Google has over other portal sites is it’s ability to intuit what the user really wants based on the search phrase. My guess: Google will stick to the single text area and will begin to understand that “SanFrancisco Weather” is the same as “Weather, SanFrancisco”.I recently read about some work Google is doing where they’re trying try begin to understand the meaning of a search, not just the phrases or words used. This means that if I were to search for something, I might get relevant results even though the search terms don’t even appear on the resulting pages.

  2. Adam says:

    It’s probably more likely that Google will adopt a parallel set of ways to access the info: Typing a quick phrase is a lot faster than navigating menus, so experienced users will want to keep that option. It’s also great for automating queries or posting links to searches. Unfamiliar users, or those looking for a one-off answer, might want the fancy UI. Thus far, Google has let the 3rd party developer community to build the UI version off their APIs, but they might start the same eventually.

  3. After reading Christian’s post, I immediately tried the weather search on Google. I wasn’t surprised that it took me about four different tries to get it to work. It most definitely does not work for me in Canada – even from google.ca – for Canadian cities.Secondly, I don’t know if I would immediately think of using Google get to my weather. When I got the weather for my childhood city of St. Paul, MN – I wasn’t impressed with the information. I got wonly the current conditions and an extremely general forcast for the next four days. What if I wanted to know the amount of snow coming tomorrow? There needs to be a link to a more detailed page – either at Google or the National Weather Service (or Enviroment Canada).

  4. Rob Brooks-Bilson says:

    You can also do weather xxxxx where xxxxx is your zip code. It’s going to need way more info to really be useful, but it is a start.

  5. Ryan Guill says:

    Im pretty impressed with it personally. There is many times that the people in my household just wants to know how cold its going to get down to tonight, which this works perfectly for. Detailed? no. But for quick and dirty, I think its a great glance. And for the record, I can search for weather memphis, tn; weather: memphis; or memphis weather and it all comes up.

  6. djuggler says:

    And there is always http://www.soople.com for those wanting to see it laid out. Whenever I can’t remember how to do a site search (for example) I just hop over to soople.But yes, it would seem that eventually there will need to be a menu of options other than http://labs.google.com/