Google’s Latest Search Trick: “As The Crow Flies” Distance Calculation

Move over, pandas. Fly away, hummingbirds. Waddle away, penguins. Google has a new animal friend: crows.

But unlike its past associations with the animal world, this one isn’t about SEO or algorithms — it’s a new search trick that adds distance calculation to Google’s OneBox feature. (The OneBox is where Google often presents immediate answers to search queries rather than just presenting links relevant to the query.)

As Google explained late Friday, the OneBox can now answer how far it is between two remote locations. It does the measurement “as the crow flies.” Google’s examples were Hawaii and Siberia — a US state and a country. It also works when asked about two remote cities, like Honolulu and Oslo.

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Google says the new OneBox works with “far-flung locales, beyond what you can drive or walk.” Indeed, if you ask how far it is between, say, Miami and Seattle, you don’t get the “as the crow flies” answers — you get a OneBox with the distance measured by driving mileage (and the directions from point A to point B).

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Google presents this as a search feature you can use with voice search on Google’s search app (both iOS and Android). It also works on Google desktop search, which is where I did the screenshot(s) above.