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Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Google Calculator Gone?

Google way back (with a working calculator)

This isn’t a good start for Google in 2007: the Google Calculator and currency converter doesn’t work anymore, as Ionut Alex. Chitu notes... at least I can reproduce this when I try from here. As an example, when I enter [1 + 100 + 20], Google offers me a Froogle onebox result ...

Product search results for 1 + 100 + 20 ...
See 1 + 100 + 20 results available through Google Checkout

When I enter [10 usd in eur], I don’t receive any onebox at all (this query returns direct currency conversions in both Yahoo and Ask). And a search for [2004 - 10] shows a silly Google Q&A onebox reading ...

102004: 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | 07 | 08 | 09 | 10 | 11 | 12 |
According to

No calculator result for [2007-10=] either. All of these searches resulted in meaningful calculator onebox results before. Even when I try the official calculator sample queries from Google’s help, I get nothing. The query [half a cup in teaspoons] returns a Google Books onebox (thanks, but no) and [5+2*2] returns only organic search results.

I actually used the Google calculator and currency converter a lot. It’s probably something you can get at 100 different places than Google, but it was nice to have it all in one place. Now either this is a hiccup, or Google is about to quietly remove another service... as the Google calculator feature is still listed in Google’s help, for now I’ll assume it’s only a technical glitch (those are relatively rare in Google web search results, but bound to happen, I guess).

On another note, will unrelated and silly oneboxes be a new problem with Google in the future? Oneboxes – those instant answers atop Google’s organic search results – are great when they’re helpful, but annoying when they’re not. E.g. just recently, Google made it so that when you search for something like [wordpress blog templates], you’ll get a onebox suggesting you “try Blogger” (because your query contained the string “blog”).

In other news from the “glitch zone,” entering [boing boing] into Google might not result in #1 blog Boing Boing’s homepage anymore, but a years-old page from the archives, as Xeni Jardin reports.

Join the ongoing forum comments.  [Thanks Ionut and Christopher Estep!]

Update: The calculator is back. Matt Cutts in the comments says the Calculator team was on it and fixed this, and he also shares a bit about Google’s recent (and recently criticized) “tips” feature:

I believe that the tips are scheduled to be removed with our next weekly binary push (hopefully in the next few days). The substring matching was unintentional and should stop completely. They may eventually bring exact-match messages back, but I believe that they’ll be looking at how to make sure that things are very targeted. I think they may also reconsider the use of the word “tip” as well.


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