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Google retires Google Instant in effort to make Search better for mobile devices

google instant
Image used with permission by copyright holder
As it continues to push toward mobile devices, Google decided to retire Google Instant, a groundbreaking feature that essentially showed users search results as they typed their search query.

The feature was first introduced at Google by Marissa Mayer in 2010, who at the time was the company’s vice president of search and user experience. There are, however, some major differences with how we handle searches now and how we did seven years ago — the biggest being that the majority of search queries happen on mobile devices. It seems as though Google has simply decided that the Google Instant experience does not work that well on mobile devices.

“We launched Google Instant back in 2010 with the goal to provide users with the information they need as quickly as possible, even as they typed their searches on desktop devices,” said a Google spokesperson in an interview with Search Engine Land. “Since then, many more of our searches happen on mobile, with very different input and interaction and screen constraints. With this in mind, we have decided to remove Google Instant, so we can focus on ways to make Search even faster and more fluid on all devices.”

It’s important to note the difference between Google Instant and auto-complete. Google killing Instant does not mean that suggestions will not continue to pop up in a drop-down menu as you type. What it does mean is that the results of those suggested queries will not render in real time until you complete your query.

The move makes sense. When we are using a smaller screen already taken up largely by a keyboard and search bar, loading search results in real time does not really make for a great user experience. Still, the feature was somewhat helpful on desktop and it will be a little sad to see it go.

The removal of Instant Search is already taking effect, so when you enter a term into the search bar on the Google home page, you will not see results load automatically. You will, however, still see the drop-down menu with suggested queries, which should continue helping you save time as you search.

Google has been making a number of steps toward improving how it gets information to the user. Last week, the company announced that it was updating “the feed” with better ways to customize the information shown to you.

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