Google Unveils Instant Search Function

Dennis Faas's picture

Google has unveiled a new instant search feature that provides results as users type in their query. It's a new trick for online searches -- one Google says will save its many, many clients lots of time.

As Google vice president of user experience Marissa Mayer put it, the instant search feature is designed to provide results "as you type, not after you type." (Source:

American Internet users got their first look at the instant search tools on Wednesday, with international clients being introduced to the feature over the course of the week.

Google Instant Search Powered by Educated Guesswork

So, how does the feature work?

Instant search simply uses popular search results to guess at what a user might be looking for well before their query is complete. Typing the single letter "w" will result in pages related to the weather, always a popular conversation topic. "The Girl" might end up with websites related to the new Swedish action thriller, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. And so on.

The feature, which is being called Google Instant, is very fast in achieving results. In a presentation at San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art, Mayer boasted that the average query plugged into Google takes about 15 seconds to enter and 300 milliseconds to process. Google Instant can cut that time away significantly, depending on the popularity of the search term.

"We estimate this will help users save two to five seconds per query... or 11 hours for every passing second," Mayer said.

Mobile Phones to Get Big Boost

The most exciting application for Google Instant may be mobile phones, where typing is much more strenuous than on a desktop, laptop or netbook. "It will make mobile search more widely used," said Greg Sterling, a researcher for Sterling Marketing Intelligence.

All of this comes shortly after Google announced it had reached a new, incredible plateau: one billion users every single week. Google estimates that Instant could collectively save its many customers 350 million hours over the next year. (Source:

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