Google is always experimenting with ways to improve not only the order of the results but also the best way to maximize the conveyance of the information returned.
Recently they added the Carousel results to the search results on selected searches. What they said was “With a carousel at the top of the results page, you can get a more complete picture of what you’re curious about. “
A case can be made that when you search for something like “famous jazz composers” the carousel returned as in the image below would be helpful in that it is showing both an image of the artist and relevant age information. It also provides an easy way to see many more artists than what would have shown up in earlier searches on the same term.
Where I think Google needs to do more work is to refine when they will use the carousel and when they won’t. The image below shows the carousel results of a local search for “Roswell Pizza”
Here the images add absolutely nothing to the search results, and may in fact detract from the overall experience. Some show a picture of a pizza which I defy anyone to make any judgment on as to quality or they show a thumbnail picture of a map, which also doesn’t convey any useful information.
There clearly is value in showing the number of reviews, star rating, and approximate cost of the restaurant but let’s lose the images unless they truly add value.