Google Instant Search: Because the Eye is Quicker than the Hand
Google today announced Google Instant for its search engine, which it calls a fundamental shift in search at its press event at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Google claims the new feature saves two to five seconds on the average query, which took 9 to 15 seconds prior to Google Instant. With more than one billion users each week, Google calculates Google Instant will save 11 hours of time for every passing second.
"Never underestimate the importance of fast," Eric Schmidt , CEO Google, said yesterday at the IFA technology show in Berlin. That's what Google Instant is all about.
Google's key technical insight was that people type slowly, but read quickly, typically taking 300 milliseconds between keystrokes, but only 30 milliseconds – or a tenth of the time – to glance at another part of the page. This means that you can scan a results page while you type.
Google combined instant results, its search engine predictions and scroll to search features to produce Google Instant. The key technical change is that Google predicts what you will type after just three or more keystrokes. Search results are served up with every letter you type.You see results in real time before you've finished typing your query. A dropbox displays a list of what you are most likely to type.
The instant feedback helps users refine their searches as they're searching. For instance, type "cava" and you'll see a list associated with the Cavaliers basketball team, but tab to choose cavaliers and add the letter "k" and the search instantly serves up Cavalier King Charles spaniels, the dog.
While it may sound confusing, a hands-on trial shows Instant to be fast, fun and interactive ― just what Google designers had in mind.
"I’ve been using Google Instant for the past few hours – amazing," Michael Hussey, CEO of PeekYou.com, a niche people search engine, said. "This is a true game-changer, stealing any momentum Bing has been working so hard to cultivate."
"For the average user, I suspect there will be a slight learning curve to fully appreciate what instant results will mean to them," Hussey said. "This is a tool that will make tens of millions of Google users significantly more efficient searchers."
Behind the scenes, Google engineers transformed search from an HTML page to an Ajax application, the same programming used for Google Maps .
Google Instant will be available later today on Chrome, Firefox, Safari and IE8 in the U.S. and will roll out across Europe over the next week.
Google also announced it will launch Google Instant for mobile later this fall.