Google has started to integrate it’s Google Docs PDF viewer into search results, allowing you to view PDFs right in the browser. Finally, you can uninstall that bloated Adobe Reader plugin, like you’ve always wanted to. If you’re on a Mac, you can see PDFs without waiting for Preview to open.
OK, so this is pretty old news but I hadn’t really noticed until recently as they don’t show a link for all documents. But why is this so awesome? PDF is a rich format that offers many features not really relevant to web search. Most often searchers are just looking for some information, like MSY’s latest price on that Hot New Intel CPU.
But this only affects search results. But you can install a Greasemonkey script which opens all links to PDF, PPT and DOC files using the Google Docs Viewer. We’ve had online apps for a while, but I consider Google’s step of opening up the GDocs Viewer to be THE official singularity, or “beginning of the end” for the humble desktop application. After this, there is no turning back. And I for one, want to see how deep the rabbit hole goes.
Or as a friend of mine once said “Firefox + Internet = Operating System”.
That said, one feature that needs improvement is searching within documents. This is only enabled for some documents, presumably the one Google has had time to index the metadata or OCR. And search hits are only highlighted with no feature of iterating through them.