Google Instant launches with predictive, immediate search results


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Google search is now even faster than before … and apparently it’s kind of psychic too.

The company debuted its Google Instant search function, which can predict users’ queries as they’re typed out, Wednesday morning at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Search results will begin popping up on screen with a user’s first keystroke, updating as more letters are added to the word or phrase being searched.


Previously, Google would suggest search terms in a drop-down menu as users typed, without revealing the actual results until the “enter” key was pressed or the “search” button was clicked.

The drop-down menu will still appear, allowing users to type less and just scroll down to select the search term they want.

In one demonstration, once a team member typed “w” into the search box, the page immediately showed the San Francisco weather forecast. The typed “w” showed up black, but the rest of the word “weather” was auto-completed in gray.

The function will shave about two to five seconds off the standard 25-second search while giving users feedback as they search, said Marissa Mayer, Google Inc.’s vice president of search product and user experience.

Google Instant, she said, is a “quantum leap forward in search.” The function’s predictive capabilities were once thought to be so impossible that the concept was featured on the site as an April Fools’ Day joke in 2000.

Throughout the day Wednesday, Instant will be launched on the Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer Version 8 browsers in the U.S. The function will be rolled out internationally to the U.K., France, Italy, Germany, Spain and Russia over the next week.

Engineers are also working on adapting Instant to mobile settings.

Google-watchers were whipped into a state of fervid anticipation this week as the company teased Wednesday’s announcement by toying with its logo on its main page. On Tuesday, the logo burst into animated bubbles that moved along with the cursor. Earlier Wednesday, users saw a gray outline of the logo that filled up with the signature blue, green, red and yellow colors as they typed in search terms.


--Tiffany Hsu