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Introducing Google Instant

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By Paul O’Reilly

Google has decided that the way we currently search the Internet is too slow. It’s not the time it takes for Google to pull up the results of a search – that usually only takes between 0.10 and 0.33 seconds. Instead, it’s all the time we waste as we decide what we are really searching for, and the time we take to correct our misspellings.

Introducing Google Instant, Google’s answer to human inefficiency in the search process.

With Google Instant, results are presented to users as they type the search query. This is not the predictive text that helps a user formulate a search query – that has been available for some time now. Instead, Google Instant predicts what you are looking for as you type and displays results right there on the home page.

The company reckons the change could save users 2 to 5 seconds in executing a typical search. “It’s not search as you type; it’s search before you type,” said Melissa Mayer, Google’s vice president of search products and user experience. With Google Instant “we’re actually predicting what query you’re likely to do and giving you the results for that.”

At first, using Google Instant can be a little distracting. It starts presenting results right after you type in the first letter. I searched for “Acapulco” and after I entered the A, it immediately suggested AOL.com – probably not what Google had in mind! Add the C and I got AccuWeather.com. It was only after I had entered the first five letters that results for the Mexican resort made it to the top of the page.

In the meantime, it’s hard not to sneak a peek at the “wrong” results as they flash up on the screen below the search box. This is surely something we will get used to, but in the beginning it probably adds back most of the time saved over a traditional search.

Meanwhile, it’s another refinement for a company committed to remaining the dominant player in search. Although Google still enjoys about a two-thirds share of the U.S. market, it continues to come under pressure from Yahoo, particularly after its recent alliance with Microsoft’s Bing search engine.     

Google Instant is available immediately in the United States and will be rolled out to other countries over the coming weeks. Users will need to log in to their Google accounts before they can access the new search tool. Google Instant will be available for mobile devices later this fall.



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