Google’s New Miscalculator Feature

Google loves offering suggestions when you type. Even before the Google Instant update, they would offer suggestions in a drop-down box like the one shown in the image below.

They also like showing answers in boldface when your query appears as if you are looking for a specific piece of information rather than a particular website. (For example, they’ll just tell you who the prime minister of australia is.)

However, sometimes those two features seem to conflict.

In the screenshot below, I was trying to convert 2 inches (aka, ‘in’) into centimeters (‘cm’), so I typed ‘2 in in cm’ and Google showed this:

(click image to enlarge)

The first suggestion for ‘2 in in cm’ is “5 ft 2 in in cm”, apparently from people trying to convert their height into metric. But rather than convert my search query (‘2 in in cm’) directly, Google’s Calculator feature has instead converted the suggested text (‘5 ft 2 in in cm’) to get 157.48 cm.

157 and half centimeters sounded way too large, which is what lead me to figure out what was going wrong. But had I been in a hurry or had no knowledge of metric at all, I might have used the 157.48 centimeter result without questioning Google.

This is just a warning to use common sense when using Google’s results…


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