Hold on to your security blanket, people, because Google is rolling out a pretty big change to its search engine. Not too long ago the internet was in a shock because Google rolled out a new feature that allowed you to pick a background image for the Google home page, just like Microsoft’s Bing. Google went a lot further today, and has launched Google Instant, adding search-before-you-type results to the Google home page.
Google doesn’t add big features to its search engine very often. Apart from delivering good results, another major appeal of Google – and one of the reasons its search engine is still king of the hill – is the iconic home page and the straightforward presentation of your query’s results. As such, a major change like this is a pretty big deal.
Some websites are erroneously reporting that Google Instant delivers search results as-you-type, but if you read Google’s announcement carefully, this is not the proper name for the new feature – it works differently. Google calls it search-before-you-type. Their reasoning is that when you want to search for “bike helmets”, you’re not really interested in the results for “bike h”.
“Google Instant is search-before-you-type,” explains Marissa Mayer, VP Search Products & User Experience, “Instant takes what you have typed already, predicts the most likely completion and streams results in real-time for those predictions – yielding a smarter and faster search that is interactive, predictive and powerful.”
“The user benefits of Google Instant are many – but the primary one is time saved,” Mayer adds, “Our testing has shown that Google Instant saves the average searcher two to five seconds per search. That may not seem like a lot at first, but it adds up. With Google Instant, we estimate that we’ll save our users 11 hours with each passing second!”
The feature is currently available on Google.com (for now only if you’re signed in with a Google account), and will become available on local Google sites in the weeks and months to come. You’ll need either Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or IE 8, and despite not being mentioned, I’m assuming it’ll work just fine in Opera as well (any testers wish to confirm this?).
I’m sold. It just feels very natural, and you no longer need to press enter to get to the results – you go to the results page as soon as you start typing. It’s great to see Google not resting on its laurels, and continue to innovate even though they don’t really need to.
There are people around who wonder why so many people like Google, why the search giant generates positive feelings instead of negative ones, despite the fact that they’re a company like everyone else. Well, people, it’s because they do stuff like this. They don’t have to innovate with the kind of market share they have – yet they do it anyway.
It’s one of the most useful features seen in a while. Kudos again to the engineers working there. If I think about it, I think I use at least a google product everyday. And not because I’m forced too or I don’t have a choice, it’s because they’re good.
This is pretty cool, a few test searches seems to show that this feature is great for being able to refine your search queries on the fly and see the results instantly. On the bad side it seems that if you absolutely know what your going to type already it doesn’t help that much and might even be distracting, though if you type fast enough it probably won’t have enough time to predict anything. I do have a fairly slow connection though so that might just me. Which means that now you need a fast connection even for search (curse my states crappy broadband coverage). Of course if I know what I want to type in the first place I usually just use the search bar in my browser and only use the actual google page for queries I will have to work with for a while so this probably won’t negatively effect me at all.
This feature will be absolutely killer for mobile though, typing speed is slow enough that this can only help and it could speed searches up by a lot. It will be interesting to see how fast other search engines will be able to respond to this, because if they can’t google will slaughter them in mobile.
Opera 10.61 on Ubuntu, doesn’t seem to work yet. Worked beautifully on chrome.