Google launched its “instant” search today, touting its ability to speed up the search experience so much that it will save its users 111 years per day.
But what is it?
Google Instant predicts what you are searching for based on the partial search phrase you have typed in and instantly provides the search results. As you continue to type the search phrase, the search results continue to update.
The idea is that Google can predict and deliver what you are looking for before you’ve finished typing the search phrase, saving you from having to type the whole phrase or hit that pesky search button.
For instance, if I search for “atlanta hotels”, the moment I type “a”, the results come back with “amazon”. I add the next “t” and the results update to “at&t”. When I add the “l” the results are for “Atlanta” and if I complete the word and add a space to signify I’m adding another word, the results come back with “atlanta braves”.
I only have to type “atlanta ho” (no snickering) for Google to predict that I’m searching for “Atlanta Hotels”. It’s that time saving (in my case, of not having to type 4 letters) that Google says will give us the most time savings since the invention of the washing machine.
Although Google has promised faster searches (the stated 2-5 seconds per search seems high) it could be that repeatedly loading search results that contain images might actually slow the search process down. Searches that bring back Google Images and YouTube results, such as searching for a celebrity like Lady Gaga, will have to render the thumbnail images for those Google image photos and YouTube videos. I also don’t know if it was just me but, despite testing on two computers in two different locations, I found a lag when typing into the search box (maybe Google’s trying to emulate my iPhone).
Furthermore, I wonder whether Google Instant could result in a change in search habits in the way that TV adverts reduce our ability to maintain concentration on the programme we’re watching. Might users become sidetracked by unrelated results that come up mid-search query? Say I’m searching for “jenny craig”, would the pictures of Jennifer Aniston when I’m only 3 letters into “jennifer” distract me and send me looking at different sites, therefore slowing down the speed of my original search?
Although Google Instant has started rolling out today, it may only be users logged into their Google Account who get to see Google Instant at the moment. Google promises to roll it out for everyone over the next little while.
Let me know what you think of it.