Google Adds Quick Answers to Search

For once, the roles have reversed and Google is taking a page from Microsoft's playbook. The search giant on Thursday added a feature called Google Q&A to search queries, which provides facts and answers to questions above results. Microsoft added a similar feature to its new MSN Search using Encarta.

Those who have dreamed of the portable Google machine to check facts during long-winded arguments can rest easy - answers can also be pulled up from a mobile phone using SMS text messages. Google has long offered the ability to pull up local and address information via phone.

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Google Q&A pulls data from a variety of sources, including the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. It's not clear how this will affect Google's relationship with GuruNet, which owns Answers.com and supplies word definition lookups within Google Searches.

"We've pulled together facts from all over the Web to help give you the fastest possible access to the quick bits of information you need every day; just type a query into the search box, and you'll get back the answer at the top of your search results," said Jonathan Betz in the Google Blog.

Although topics with answers, such as celebrities and planets, may be limited for now, Google says it plans to add more facts to the Q&A service over time.

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