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Google’s latest experimental additions to its search tools include "Similar
Images" and a "Google News Timeline," but it seems there are
still a few kinks to work out.

Both Similar Images and Google News Timeline were introduced by the search
giant yesterday as part of its growing online Labs project, in which users can
take a peek at what Google’s thousands of engineers are working on.

Similar Images refines a Google image search to pictures that look similar
(natch) to a user’s chosen result, while Google News Timeline arranges search
topic results chronologically in a scrollable timeline. Of course, these
tools are still in the experimental stage, and the results sometimes bring up
skewed searches.

But it seems "experimental" is exactly the point Google’s trying to
make. Industry pundits have claimed in the past that Google has wasted too much
time and effort on projects that have little impact, and it seems the Google
Labs enhancements will make application and feature prototypes available
earlier.

"The idea we are trying to build here with Labs and the culture of
innovation is to close the gap at the point of which a new idea is hatched and
the time it takes to get into the hands of users for feedback," said
Google Director of Product Management R. J. Pittman in a statement.

This means engineers can find out at a much earlier stage which ideas do or do
not work in a particular feature or product, allowing them to either reshape it
or scrap it altogether much more quickly.

In an economic climate where many organizations are cutting back on investments
in new technology and infrastructure, Google said in a statement that continued
innovation of this kind is key to future success.

By adding these new features, Google is ahead of the game as it tries to
solidify its hold on the American search market, analysts say. Google currently
claims nearly 64 percent of the American market, compared with Yahoo, which has
just over 20 percent, while Microsoft has only 8.3 percent market share.