The next generation of search technology


Grokr is clearly modelled on Google's service but offers one key difference. Whereas Google Now pulls in the information it knows about you directly from Google's own products (Gmail, Calendar etc.), Grokr's intuitive abilities instead rely on data you enable it to access from other online properties (of which there are approximately 50, including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn) in addition to plotting your whereabouts via GPS and location services.

In keeping with its inspiration being heavily drawn from Google Now, Grokr's predictive portfolio of information and recommendations relevant to you is similarly broad, with Grokr 'tiles' replacing Google Now's 'cards'.

The commute tile keeps you abreast of traffic conditions and estimated travel times based on your destination and commute patterns; the location tile keeps you informed about things around you like businesses, public events, restaurants and so forth; plus there's a weather tile, sports, and a number of news functions related to news tailored to you, trending items and major headlines.

If you don't like the kinds of updates you're receiving, you can refine your feeds.

There have been a huge number of uninspired and mostly forgettable Siri clones for both iOS and Android in the past year or so, but this relatively new app (released last December) looks to hold considerable potential.


Powered by Nuance's Dragon voice-recognition software, the soon-to-launch MindMeld is an innovative-looking group chat app for iPad — kind of like Skype — but with a unique twist: MindMeld 'listens' to the conversations you're having with friends and in turn displays an interactive Pinterest-style board of related information on your tablet.

According to its makers, Expect Labs, MindMeld can understand what people in the call are talking about and identify key conversational topics.

From there, the software automatically brings up related pictures, videos, articles and information from the web and displays them on your tablet.

If you see something on the screen that's particularly relevant (for example, the location of a restaurant you've been discussing or a particular news story you want your friend to see), you can simply swipe it to share with others in the chat or on social networks.

While the idea of a silent, HAL-like eavesdropper might seem a bit creepy at first, it's really no different to the sort of automatic text scraping Gmail has been doing to our private email correspondence for close to a decade (used to generate relevant advertising, which may also end up being the case here).

All up, MindMeld is looking very Star Trek — including the name, borrowed from a certain Vulcan's penetrating telepathy technique.

An Android version is said to be in the works, and video chat (in addition to just voice chat) is also expected to be incorporated in the future.


Izik is another newcomer and is the first touch-friendly search engine created specifically for tablets.

Izik (a reference to Isaac Newton) displays information in rows that can be swiped easily with your thumbs from left to right and vice versa.

This is a much more user-friendly way of navigating a search engine when your hands are holding up a tablet.

But Izik is trying to be more than a touch-friendly search engine. When designing Izik, its developers, US-based Blekko (who run the blekko search engine that focuses on delivering spam-free results), also took into account how people use search on tablets.

It discovered the obvious: that search engines on desktop computers tend to be used for work and on tablets for fun and exploration, so it's tailored its tablet search engine to deliver a more image-rich layout which also allows for easier discovery of related content.

In fact, Izik is really a cross between a search engine and a tablet magazine, with each query generating its own set of categories that you can follow.

So, for instance, search 'Kylie Minogue' and the results are broken up into various categories than range from 'Latest news' to 'Gossip' and 'Lyrics'.

Izik is available as an app for iPad and Android tablets.