At an event at its San Francisco headquarters this evening, Pinterest announced a major new feature: Guided Search. As you've already figured out, it's a way to find things--images, products, recipes and more--which other people have pinned on the service.
But search is traditionally text-oriented and meant to help you find something specific; Pinterest is largely visual and mostly about stumbling across stuff which you'll enjoy. So Guided Search isn't just a conventional search engine. And since 75 percent of people use Pinterest on mobile devices, it's designed to be something you do with one hand, minimal typing required.
You do initiate a search by beginning to type a word. As you do, Pinterest suggests terms. And then it turns your query into tags which you can delete or add to, letting you refine or broaden your search. It also starts showing the names of Guides made up of pins relating to terms associated with your search; you can pull up any of these Guides with one tap.
In a search shown in a video at the event, for instant, starting to type "Vespa" lets you quickly create tags for "Vespa" and "Vintage." It also shows you Guides such as "vintage," "scooters" and "helmets," letting you pivot from your original Vespa search into a board made up of items which might be closely related to the topic, or only tangentially associated with it.
Besides Guided Search, the company announced a couple of other changes meant to help people discover pins. A feature called Custom Categories lets you browse through pins on niche topics which weren't formerly organized in one place. And Pinterest says that the Related Pins feature now does a smarter job of identifying interesting pins related to the one you're looking at.
"There's a lot of pins and not a lot of time," said Pinterest co-founder and CEO Ben Silbermann at the event. "That's a problem. At Pinterest, we're making it easy to find just what you were looking for, or maybe what you didn't know you were looking for."
Pinterest says that Guided Search will get better as more and more people use it. It's rolling out first in the service's apps for iPhone, iPad and Android, and should be available shortly. (I don't see it in the App Store on my iPhone just yet.)