Google's looking to make your search history more functional by gathering topically related queries that you've entered in the past into defined collections, based on subject groups.
As explained by Google:
"Today, we’re launching some changes to Collections in Search to make it easier to jump back into your task without digging through your search history. Using AI, Collections in the Google app and mobile web now groups similar pages you've visited from Search related to activities like cooking, shopping and hobbies. You can choose to save these suggested collections so you can come back to them later."
As you can see in this example, when you go to Collections in the Google app, you'll now see a new 'Suggested Collections' listing along the top of the screen. Tap on any of these and you'll be shown a listing of Google searches you've conducted in the past related to this topic.
It could be an easier way to keep track of relevant searches - and further to this, Google is also adding a 'Find More' button (which you can also see in the above example), which, when tapped, will show you "related websites, images, products, and even related searches so you can explore new aspects of a topic".
Google first unveiled Collections in search in 2018, enabling users to group saved searches into defined categories within the app. But that wasn't Google's first foray into Collections - back in 2015, Google released a similar Collections tool for Google+, which, at that time, was seen as one of Google's first moves to fend off potential competition from Pinterest.
Which is particularly interesting in the context of this additional new Collections option:
"There’s also a new collaboration feature that lets you share and work on a collection with others. For example, if you’re planning a party with friends, you might want to share the recipes you’re considering, or the decorations you want to use so you can make a decision together. When sharing a collection, you'll have the option to let others view it or to let others make changes."
Which sounds a lot like Pinterest's Group Boards, right? Collaborative listings of items and ideas, based on platform searches. Note also the messaging capability in the above example - Pinterest added messaging to its group boards back in 2018.
Indeed, Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann - who himself once worked for Google - has repeatedly noted that Pinterest is not a social network, but more “a catalog of ideas”, with a focus on product discovery. That emphasis is seen by most as a way to hedge Pinterest from inevitable comparison to Facebook - seeing how Twitter has been withered by such comparisons over time, Silbermann and his team appeared determined to distance themselves from The Social Network tag, and market framing which would pit them against Facebook's massive growth, particularly in light of Pinterest's own IPO.
But in distancing itself from Facebook, it may have inadvertently awakened an even bigger rival, with Google now looking to blunt Pinterest's growth, releasing a range of similar products and tools which appear designed to temper the smaller platform's efforts.
Which makes sense - for every expansion Pinterest makes into search and discovery, Google is the main loser, and even though Pinterest's share of such activity would be very small, Google, through its own tools, can offer similar tools. So why lose out at all?
And if Pinterest keeps growing, it becomes a bigger problem for the Big G. So while Pinterest's discovery tools are expanding, and its usage is on the rise, expect Google to be paying close attention, and providing similar offerings where it can.
You can read more about Google's new Collections tools here.