Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Reviewing Google Desktop for Mac

Google today just released Google Desktop for Mac. has a good review of it.

QuickSilver and Spotlight users may wonder where Google Desktop fits-in, and from using all 3 apps, here are some guesses:

- Spotlight is a simple view into Mac OS X's real-time file-system-based indexing technology: Every time you save something on your Mac, Mac OS X detects this "event", and tells Spotlight to "index" or "re-index" the file in real-time. This is why it's possible to create a text file anywhere on your hard drive, type some text in it, save it ... and searching for that text in spotlight instantly reveals the file you just created. More importantly though, Spotlight will find just about any piece of information stored in just about any document on your hard drive, whether it lives in the file name, or in the file itself.

- QuickSilver leverages Spotlight to near-instantly keep track of installed Applications, but also various types of documents fitting certain categories. From here though, QuickSilver is far more about "Acting Without Thinking" than it is about merely "Finding Stuff":
In the end, Quicksilver has one very important effect: the effort of frequent tasks fades into the background and you are able to act without thinking. After an adaptation period, Quicksilver becomes an extension of yourself; the process fades away leaving only the results.
In this sense, QuickSilver and Spotlight are very complementary technologies.

- Google Desktop for Mac, however, appears to be reindexing the entire hard drive without so-much relying on the "live index" being kept by Spotlight. This isn't entirely surprising as Google may be leveraging custom indexing and searching algorithms to surface more relevant results than Spotlight otherwise would.

As a good neighbor though, the Google Desktop Preferences pane indicates that Google Desktop will obey all no-indexing privacy directives specified in Spotlight, which is a nice integration touch.

It will be interesting to see whether Google Desktop will pick-up "real-time" changes to the file system the same way Spotlight does.

Similarly to its Windows counterpart, it runs a web service that appears to solely bind to localhost on port 7468, which is reassuring. The last thing you want is for someone on your network to query your hard drive. Trying to connect to port 7468 to my LAN IP from another machine on the network did, as I was hoping, refuse the connection.

If it does deliver on speed and results relevance, Google Desktop might if anything be more of a "replacement" for using Spotlight for day-to-day file searches, while providing a more elegant integration framework of Mac OS X with the overall Google Ecosystem.


Corey said...

Thanks for the info Chris. Will have to check it out.

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