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Google has unveiled Hummingbird algorithm – an upgrade to the way it interprets users’ search requests.

Hummingbird is the first major upgrade for three years.

The new algorithm has already been in use for about a month, and affects about 90% of Google searches.

At a presentation on Thursday, Google was short on specifics but said Hummingbird is especially useful for longer and more complex queries.

Google stressed that a new algorithm is important as users expect more natural and conversational interactions with a search engine – for example, using their voice to speak requests into mobile phones, smart watches and other wearable technology.

Google has unveiled Hummingbird algorithm, an upgrade to the way it interprets users' search requests

Google has unveiled Hummingbird algorithm, an upgrade to the way it interprets users’ search requests

Hummingbird is focused more on ranking information based on a more intelligent understanding of search requests, unlike its predecessor, Caffeine, which was targeted at better indexing of websites.

It is more capable of understanding concepts and the relationships between them rather than simply words, which leads to more fluid interactions. In that sense, it is an extension of Google’s “Knowledge Graph” concept introduced last year aimed at making interactions more human.

In one example, shown at the presentation, a Google executive showed off a voice search through her mobile phone, asking for pictures of the Eiffel Tower. After the pictures appeared, she then asked how tall it was. After Google correctly spoke back the correct answer, she then asked “show me pictures of the construction” – at which point a list of images appeared.

The news was announced at an intimate press event at the Silicon Valley garage where founders Sergei Brin and Larry Page worked on the launch of the search engine, which is fifteen years old on Friday.

At the event, Google also announced an updated search app on Apple’s iOS, as well as a more visible presence for voice search on its home page.

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Google shares’ trading was suspended for two-and-a-half hours after the internet giant released its third-quarter results early by mistake.

Its quarterly profits fell 20% from a year earlier to $2.18 billion – below analysts’ expectations.

Google blamed financial printing firm RR Donnelley for filing an early draft of the results, which had been expected after the closing bell.

Shares in Google were down 9% when trading in the stock was suspended.

When trading resumed, the shares recovered slightly to end the day 8% lower.

Google chief executive Larry Page apologized to analysts on a conference call after the market closed.

“I’m sorry for the scramble earlier today,” he said, adding that the company had had a strong quarter.

In a statement after the inadvertent release, Google said: “Earlier this morning RR Donnelley, the financial printer, informed us that they had filed our draft 8K earnings statement without authorization.

“We have ceased trading on Nasdaq while we work to finalize the document. Once it’s finalized we will release our earnings, resume trading on Nasdaq and hold our earnings call as normal at 1:30 PST.”

Google chief executive Larry Page apologized to analysts on a conference call after the market closed

Google chief executive Larry Page apologized to analysts on a conference call after the market closed

The company’s draft results statement, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, was published at 09:30 Pacific time (16:30 GMT), three-and-a-half hours ahead of schedule.

It says “PENDING LARRY QUOTE” at the beginning, referring to chief executive Larry Page and indicating that it was not ready for publication.

Its final results statement, published at 12:00 Pacific time (19:00 GMT), included the following quotation from Larry Page: “We had a strong quarter. Revenue was up 45% year-on-year, and, at just fourteen years old, we cleared our first $14 billion revenue quarter.

“I am also really excited about the progress we’re making creating a beautifully simple, intuitive Google experience across all devices.”

Net revenue rose to $11.3 billion from $7.5 billion, but was still below forecasts.

Including websites that generate traffic for Google’s ads, revenue rose 45% to $14.1 billion.

The slide in Google’s share price took the company’s market value back down below that of Microsoft, which it had overtaken earlier this month.

Joe Saluzzi from Themis Trading said: “You can’t make those mistakes any more.”

He added: “Mistake or not, the earnings are earnings. The problem is when this happens in the middle of the day, there is no time for a conference call to massage it, there is no time for analysts’ questions and for an evaluation.”

Google completed the purchase of the loss-making mobile phone maker Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion earlier this year and has been struggling to turn the firm around.

Costs related to the acquisition – for employee stock compensation and restructuring charges – knocked Google’s overall results, as did the strong dollar.

The company said that if foreign exchange rates had been unchanged, its revenue would have been $136 million higher.