Google is giving location a prominent place in its upcoming search redesign: Your whereabouts may be displayed right underneath the search bar.
Not only that, the left-hand sidebar (which has been in the beta test for a long time, but hasn’t been fully released) gets a touch-up. The heavy bars are gone and the icons are cleaner and brighter in color, compared to redesign screenshots that were floating around last month (see below).
Google spokesperson Nate Tyler says the changes are part of an experiment. The company has been tinkering with different icons and displays for months, so it’s hard to say with certainty what will ultimately come through the redesign.
“At Google, we run anywhere from 50 to 200 experiments at any given time on Google sites all over the world,” Tyler said. There’s more information on how the company runs these experiments here.
Google has factored location into search results for awhile without explicitly telling the user that the company knows their whereabouts. It recently launched ‘Nearby’ search in February, returning results from local venues overlaid on top of a map.
Other companies also use your IP address to send you location-specific content. Facebook has long served location-sensitive advertising on its website while Twitter recently launched a feature letting users geotag where they are directly from the site.