By Maggie Shiels
Technology reporter, BBC News, Silicon Valley

Google has launched two experimental products it hopes will change the way users search for pictures and news.

A feature known as Similar Images uses a picture rather than text to find other matching images.

Timeline presents information already available in Google News but organised and displayed chronologically.

Alongside these features is a new version of Google Labs, in which users can take a peek at what its thousands of engineers are working on.

Amid past criticism that Google has wasted too much time and effort on projects that have little impact, the aim of the Labs upgrade is to make prototypes available earlier.

"The idea we are trying to build here with Labs and the culture of innovation is to close the gap at the point of which a new idea is hatched and the time it takes to get into the hands of users for feedback," said Google director of product management R J Pittman.

This means engineers can find out at a much earlier stage what does and does not work in a new feature or product allowing them to either reshape it or scrap it altogether.

Google said that in the present economic climate this approach made complete sense.

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image: The Timeline archives date back to the 1400s (By