July 25, 2012 at 4:43 PM ET
Google's search box is a handy place not just for finding websites, but for nearly any query. Quick calculations have been possible to input for years, but Google has just upgraded its results to include extra tools, such as a full calculator and dropdown boxes for unit conversions.
The changes are part of an ongoing enrichment of search results, the most visible of which is the Knowledge Graph, announced some months back. Knowledge Graph, and now the scientific calculator and unit conversion tool, provide instant results that can be further investigated should your original query not prove adequate.
Some functions but not others are included; algebraic functions will show a graph but no calculator, and some conversion items aren't supported yet. For instance, converting cubits into fathoms does not yield a handy archaic measurements dropdown menu yet.
Google isn't publicizing these small improvements the way they did Knowledge Graph and other new features, so don't be surprised if a new tool pops up during one of your routine searches.
Devin Coldewey is acontributing writer for NBC News. His personal website iscoldewey.cc.