Google plays doctor with improved symptom search results

Google plays doctor with improved symptom search results

Your throat is scratchy, you've got a cough, and your chest aches. Do you just down some orange juice and go to bed - or rush yourself over to the doctor's office as soon as possible?

Google is making that distinction easier thanks to improving its search results for symptoms, helping narrow down the potential causes of your sore throat before jumping to the scariest conclusions - looking at you, WebMD.

Rolling out on mobile devices over the next few days, Google's amped-up symptom search will show related conditions to help specify what you're feeling. For example, an ailment like "headache on one side" could lead to suggestions like migraines, tension headaches, and even congestion from the common cold as possible causes.

In addition to branching out how users search through their sickness, Google will also provide simple self-treated remedies or notify the user if the symptoms are serious enough to warrant a trip to the clinic.

A doctor in every Google Home

Another potential boon of Google's new symptom search is how it could interact with its upcoming Google Home smart speaker, which is powered by the company's powerful search technology.

The digital assistant could moonlight as a makeshift medic - able to diagnose illnesses on the fly, or even possibly learn to administer first-aid instructions in case of emergencies.

While purely theoretical, we wouldn't be surprised if the feature makes its way to Home to help it stand out from Amazon's competitor, Echo.

Despite the sheer number of searches Google receives related to investigating symptoms - about 1% of searches ever made - the company stresses that it is "for informational purposes only," recommending that actual doctors still take precedence when it comes to dispensing medical advice.

Parker Wilhelm
Parker Wilhelm is a freelance writer for TechRadar. He likes to tinker in Photoshop and talk people's ears off about Persona 4.