Google Instant offers predictive searches as you type

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Internet search giant Google has introduced what it describes as “the future of search”—Google Instant, which offers interactive search results based on both what users have typed into Google’s search bar so far, but also on what Google’s software predicts users are trying to type. Search results change on the fly as a user refines their query, with no need to execute repeated searches. Like Google’s common queries interface, Google Instant also offers a drop-down list of predicted search strings that enable users to choose predicted queries just by scrolling.

“Instant takes what you have typed already, predicts the most likely completion and streams results in real-time for those predictions—yielding a smarter and faster search that is interactive, predictive and powerful,” wrote Google search products VP Marissa Mayer in the company blog.

Google is touting time-saving as the primary benefit of Google Instant: Google claims in its testing, average search users save two to five seconds her search. Considering that many searchers have to execute a handful of search queries to find what they want—and many execute numerous searches a day—it doesn’t take long for those seconds to add up. Google estimates Google Instant could collectively save its users 11 hours every second that it operates.

Google also notes the technologies it had to develop to make Google Instant a reality on a service as heavily used as Google search, including the ability to adaptively control the rate at which new search results are shown, new caching systems, and Javascript that wouldn’t slow down browsers. Google says Google Instant shouldn’t slow down users’ Internet connections, but they plan to disable it automatically for users on slow (e.g., dialup) connections. Google also filters many potentially offensive and indecent terms from Google Instant by default.

Google is currently rolling out Google Instant to users in the United States, France, Germany, Spain, Russia, and the United Kingdom—Google says it will be a few days before the service is fully available via Google.com. The technology requires users have a recent Web browser: Firefox 3.x or newer, Chrome 5 and newer, Safari 5 for Macintosh, and Internet Explorer 8.0 and newer all support Google Instant. Google Instant will also work for Google searches embedded in non-Google sites if a user is currently signed into a Google account.

Google Instant is not currently available for mobile users, but Google says they plan to introduce it “soon.”

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