Google Instant: Searches As Fast As You Can Type -- And Think

Google Instant technology offers "search-before-you-type," according to Marissa Mayer, vice president of search products and user experience for Google, in a blog post on Google's Web site.

The tool takes what you have already typed and predicts the most likely completion, streaming results in realtime for those predictions and yielding a smarter and faster search, Mayer wrote.

"It's a simple and straightforward idea -- people can get results as they type their queries. Imagining the future of search, the idea of being able to search for partial queries or provide some interactive feedback while searching, has come up more than a few times," Mayer wrote. "Along the way, we've even built quite a few demos (notably, Amit Patel in 1999 and Nikhil Bhatla in 2003)."

Google's early designs were "fun, fast and interactive" but fundamentally flawed, Mayer continued, because most users don't want search-as-you-type. "No one wants search results for [bike h] in the process of searching for [bike helmets]. You really want search-before-you-type -- that is, you want the results for the most likely search given what you have already typed," she wrote.

Sponsored post

To develop Google Instant, Google had to build new technologies including new caching systems, the ability to adaptively control the rate at which results pages are shown, and an optimization of page-rendering JavaScript to help Web browsers keep up with the rest of the system, according to Mayer.

"In the end, we needed to produce a system that was able to scale while searching as fast as people can type and think -- all while maintaining the relevance and simplicity people expect from Google," Mayer wrote in the blog.

Google said the average searcher can save two to five seconds per touch, which can add up to 11 hours per month.

Google Instant is available through on Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer 8, according to the company. In addition to North America, it's available to users in France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Spain and the United Kingdom.

"Over the coming weeks and months, we'll work to roll out Google Instant to all geographies and platforms," Mayer wrote.