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Google adds icons to image searches to offer more info on thumbnails

Google is constantly tweaking the appearance and functionality of its popular search engine, with the latest change aimed at image searches.

Rolling out by the end of the week, the new feature means that when looking for images using Google on desktop, you’ll see small icons at the bottom left corner of each listed thumbnail that offer more information about the page to which they are linked.

For example, a knife and fork icon means the image is linked to a recipe, so if the pictured food looks particularly tasty, you can click through to find out how to make it. On the other hand, a tag icon depicts a buyable product, so click on that and you’ll be taken to an online store where you can purchase it. Additionally, a play-button icon means the image links to a video.

And there’s more: Roll the mouse over the icon and you’ll see text added to the icon for clarification, such as “recipe” or “product,” while for videos you’ll be shown the clip’s run time.

Up until the change, images in Google listings only showed the dimensions, and even then you had to roll the mouse over the image to see that information.

In a tweet announcing the upcoming change to Google Images, the web giant said that although image dimensions will be removed in favor of the new icons, they can still be accessed by rolling the mouse over the image in the information display that appears when you click on a thumbnail.

Google is also testing a “licensable” icon to make it easier for creatives to know if they can use an image in their own work, and if so, on what terms. The company said that this particular feature is still in beta testing but could be rolled out in the near future.

In other changes to Google Images for desktop, the company last year introduced a tweak where clicking on an image opens it in a fixed side panel instead of across the page. The feature was designed mainly with shoppers in mind as it lets you compare products more easily while looking through the rest of the returned thumbnails.

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Trevor Mogg
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