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Tested: Google's overhauled search engine

Google has shown off a new version of its search engine, which will replace the current one in the next few months. We've taken it for a test drive to see what Google tells us about toilet seats

Google has shown off a new version of its search engine, which will replace the current one in the next few months.

Internally codenamed 'Caffeine', Google says it's aiming its darts at three specific bullseyes: how fast you get results when you punch in a query, how relevant to your query those results are, and how large Google's database of Web pages is.

Before it pushes an attractive red 'on' button, Google needs to make sure things are working to the highest level of hunky dory. So it's letting everyone have a fondle and a fiddle, and we just fondled our asses off. Not literally. That would be uncomfortable for everyone.

In went a basic search query -- 'mobiles'. On the current Google.com engine, 53,500,000 results were delivered in 0.16 seconds.

Then, with the same query on the new Google engine, we saw 62,800,000 results delivered in 0.08 seconds. You may notice that's twice as fast, but bear in mind the standard Google is serving up hundreds of millions of search results every day. The developer version is not, and is bound to be faster. But there were almost 10 million extra results.

As for accuracy, we noticed some small but important changes in how results were ranked. A search for 'Cradle Of Filth' (an extreme metal band one of us here is very fond of) on the current Google search brings up the band's Wikipedia page first, but their official site second. On the new Google, their official site is first, Wikipedia second.

Fun with toilet seats

Let's try something slightly more obscure. 'Heated toilet seats' seemed an obvious choice. On old Google, a price comparison site appeared as the first result. Well that's no good. The second result down was, for some reason, a post from currently defunct ShinyShiny.tv, with the killer opening line, "A cold toilet seat can be a shocker first thing in the morning." Yes, yes it can.

Anyway, on the new Google, that result was a little lower down in the search results. Unfortunately for ShinyShiny, it's been overtaken by toiletseat.biz. How unpleasant. But fortunately for us, the more highly ranked result is also much more relevant to our interests.

Fun with verdicts

For sure, results seem to be delivered faster, and in our testing were generally more relevant to our search queries. How this will change when it replaces the current Google in the coming months remains to be seen.

Incidentally, all this testing took place on the US version of Google, not our local UK version. We asked Google whether it plans on rolling this out to the UK version of its search engine: "We're testing right now in the hope that this will let us improve Google search everywhere internationally," a spokesperson told us, "but right now it's still very early. We have no launch plans yet."

You can try out the new Google here. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.