Google Instant. Sounds like a “just add water” product, right? Truth is everyone is buzzing about Google Instant, which officially launched two days ago on September 8th. What exactly is Google Instant? According to Google’s official site:
Google Instant is a new search enhancement that shows results as you type. We are pushing the limits of our technology and infrastructure to help you get better search results, faster. Our key technical insight was that people type slowly, but read quickly, typically taking 300 milliseconds between keystrokes, but only 30 milliseconds (a tenth of the time!) to glance at another part of the page. This means that you can scan a results page while you type.So what’s the real difference between the “old Google” and this new “Google Instant?” Not too much to be honest.
First of all – this Google Instant technology has been around for a while now. Whenever you typed a word into Google search it would show a drop down menu with “suggestions” – basically guesses of what you were searching for. Now, instead of a drop down menu, the results actually show up in the search line.
The time you save with the new Google comes from this: instead of scrolling down to the “suggestion,” clicking on it, waiting for the search page to load and clicking on your selected result , the results page actually loads as you are typing.
There is some convenience to the “new and improved search.” It searches based on location. When I had Google Instant enabled (YES – you can turn it off), I typed “coffee” into the search bar. The first result was for the Wikipedia page on coffee. The second for Starbucks, and the 4th listing down was the Google Maps listing for coffee in Boston. Woo-hoo, I didn’t have to type Boston into the search bar, it automatically knew where I was searching from. This saved me a whole second!
I get the same results … with private browsing switched on in Firefox, with cookies cleared, and with permission revoked for Google to use my location (which is actually a little disturbing -- why is Google still showing me search results for the local power company and furniture store if it's not supposed to know who or where I am?).
The answer to Mitch’s question is IP address geographic locating software.
I guess the new and improved search is “better” in that when I typed in coffee, and Google recognized I was typing from a Boston-based IP address, it didn’t show me Caribou Coffee or Tim Horton’s as neither of these coffee chains exist in Boston (although Timmy Ho Ho really needs to open a location in Boston, but I digress).
To be honest, I found this really annoying. So I turned it off. If you have a Google account and remained signed in, you can go to “Search Settings” and specify “Don’t Use Google Instant.”
Call me old fashioned. I liked actually taking the time to look what I was searching for. Those extra 2.5 seconds are what make research bearable. What are your thoughts? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.