TikTok is testing AI search results

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TikTok is actively experimenting with artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance its search capabilities, marking a significant step in the evolution of search within the app. This initiative includes the introduction of AI-generated search results and a dedicated search shortcut, alongside a broader integration of search functionalities that could potentially transform TikTok into a comprehensive shopping destination and a formidable competitor in the search engine landscape.

AI-Generated Search Results

TikTok is testing AI-generated search results, a feature that presents AI-generated content at the top of the search results page for certain queries. This content, attributed to ChatGPT, aims to provide more precise and diverse responses to user inquiries. The feature, known as 'search highlights,' offers a fresh perspective on in-app searches, allowing users to access a full-screen page with detailed responses generated by AI. This development is part of TikTok's ongoing efforts to upgrade its search results page and offer a more enriched search experience within the app.

Dedicated Search Shortcut

TikTok has introduced a dedicated search shortcut designed to facilitate quicker searches on the platform. This new prompt, which users can add by downloading the shortcut, is part of TikTok's strategy to encourage more searches on its platform. The feature is multimodal, pulling answers from videos, text, and third-party websites, complete with links for further details and information. This initiative is seen as a move to improve discovery on TikTok search, potentially turning the platform into a full shopping destination and attracting more advertisers.

Integration with External Search Engines

TikTok's search functionality has been expanding, with the platform integrating Google Search results within the app last fall. This feature serves as a direct link back to Google, and TikTok has also explored adding links to Wikipedia, IMDb, and other websites within the app's search results page. This integration signifies TikTok's ambition to become a more comprehensive search tool, providing users with a wide array of information sources directly within the app.

The Broader Context

The evolution of TikTok's search capabilities reflects a changing landscape in how users seek information online. With Google now featuring TikTok videos in its search results and the growing reliance on social media platforms like TikTok and YouTube for searches, especially among younger users, the concept of a search engine is continually evolving. TikTok's foray into AI-generated search results and its efforts to enhance search functionality within the app underscore the platform's ambition to redefine search in the social media era. In summary, TikTok's testing of AI search results and the introduction of a dedicated search shortcut represent significant developments in the platform's search capabilities. These initiatives, coupled with the integration of external search engines and links, position TikTok as a key player in the evolving search engine landscape, challenging traditional search engines and reshaping how users discover content online.
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