Search ON The GO

Microsoft is sharing information about research it is doing to improve mobile search. Microsoft Research’s Search ON The GO (SONGO) caches information on mobile devices with the expectation that when a user runs a search the information being sought is in the cache. The result is faster search results because the results are coming from the device rather than the Internet.

As is the case with any cache, performance gains are achieved through a high number of hits from the cache. The trick then, is to have the right algorithm for putting data in the cache. SONGO does this by monitoring a user’s search activity over time and then determining the type of information the user frequently searches for, and caches that information. Microsoft’s analysis of 100 million mobile search queries shows that 66% of the search queries for a single user can be answered in a cache containing 2,500 links in a 1 MB cache. The cache updates daily to insure it has the latest information.

I find the research that Microsoft is doing here interesting, but I am wondering whether the improvements in mobile networks is removing the problem SONGO solves. A few years ago it was more common for a user to encounter areas of no mobile Internet connectivity, but as the build out of 3G networks continue, it is becoming less common to see no data connection. I find that even at Edge speeds search queries return fast enough for my needs. As is the case of many research projects, SONGO may never be turned in to a product, but it does show some innovative thinking on Microsoft’s part.