Google unveils faster Internet search (Update 2)

Sep 08, 2010 by Glenn Chapman
Members of the media and invited guests use the new Google Instant during a special launch event in San Francisco, California. Google is giving Web users the thrill of speed with a new feature that displays suggested links as fast as a person can type.

Internet powerhouse Google is giving Web searchers the thrill of speed with a turbo-charged engine that displays suggested Web links as fast as a person can type.

After two days of teasingly tinkering with the Google logo, or "doodle," atop its home page, the California company ended the mystery Wednesday by unveiling "Google Instant" -- a zippier route to Web search results.

As users type in a query, the Google search box suggests terms and shows results for the top suggestion.

"Google Instant actually gets queries and gives you search results as you type and streams those results to your computer," Google vice president of search products and user experience Marissa Mayer said.

"We are actually predicting what query you are likely to do and giving you results for that. There is actually a psychic element to it," Mayer said at a press event in the San Francisco Museum of Art.

Instant began rolling out Wednesday in the United States and would expand to Britain, France, Germany, Russia and three other countries during the course of the coming week, according to Mayer.

"We are really excited about what Google Instant could mean in terms of the evolution of search," she said, describing it as "a quantum leap forward" in search.

Google is putting finishing touches on a version of Instant for smartphones and other mobile devices and should release it in the next several months, according to Mayer.

"I think this is a piece of an ever-changing landscape of computing," said Google co-founder Sergey Brin. "Things coming out in the next decade from Google and other companies will really change the way we do computing."

Brin joked that he has started toying with saying "Google wants to be the third half of your brain."

As queries are typed, "auto-complete" software developed by Google engineers tries to predict the subjects of searches.

For example, when someone in Washington types the letter h in Google's search line, the words Hotmail, Hulu and Home Depot immediately appear in a drop-down box. Continue writing "he," and those words are replaced with Hertz and Hershey Park.

The suggested links vary according to user location.

"You have to truly use Google and see for yourself to understand the power," Google Instant director of product management Johanna Wright said.

Brin credited software innovations in-house and faster, cheaper computer chips with making it possible for Google data centers to manage the leap in the amount of data handled by turning each search into an ever-evolving query.

"We did have to spend a lot more computer power on it, and it is really thanks to all of those advances in semiconductors and multi-core processors that we can do this," Brin said.

The new tool shaves seconds off searches at Google, which is used by more than a billion people monthly, and prides itself on the speed with which it finds what people seek on the Internet.

Search Engine Land website editor Danny Sullivan said Instant promised to add an "Oh wow!" effect to using the world's most popular search engine.

"But it might also be annoying when it doesn't get things right," Sullivan said. "I also think it wouldn't be that hard for competitors to copy."

The Instant launch came shortly after Microsoft's rival search engine Bing began handling online queries at Yahoo! Web pages in an alliance aimed at taking on Google.

"We think it is a great differentiator; search is going to be easier and more fun on Google," Mayer told AFP.

"We are really happy with how well this sets us apart from the competition."

Matt Rosoff of private analyst firm Directions On Microsoft doubted that Instant would make much difference in the battle for Internet search market share.

"It's a nice improvement, but I can't see it really changing the search game a lot," Rosoff said.

"It is sort of the same problem Bing has been facing: many people are really happy with their Google results and it is hard to improve on that."

Ripple effects of Instant are expected to be felt by websites that tailor designs or content to rank high in Google query results in a tactic called "search engine optimization."

"With Instant, people might not be as prone to finish a query and change search patterns," Rosoff said.

"It is a big change for companies trying to get listed in search results. Lots of companies make or lose millions of dollars based on search engine optimization and their Google strategy."

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User comments : 11

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nada
1.8 / 5 (5) Sep 08, 2010
Sounds like hype to me. After all, if as Steven Wright would say, your "apartment was broken into and everything were replaced by exact duplicates!" - how would you know and why would you care?

So instead of the prior way of showing cached results, the results are now found on the fly - but the results are identical - who cares? Its stupid.
trekgeek1
5 / 5 (5) Sep 08, 2010
The point is that you don't have to load another page to see if your query was successful. If I'm looking for a particular type of site, I can see if my query will return the correct type of site or if I need to modify my search with quotations,wildcards, or specify a domain. I have frequently searched for a term and had to jump right back to the top and try again because the results were garbage.
gmurphy
5 / 5 (4) Sep 08, 2010
I've been using it already today for searching programming api's, works pretty sweet too.
canuckit
not rated yet Sep 08, 2010
This is good news. Next, I wish Google takes action against spam guestbooks, bbs and comment pages that clog search engines with junk/phishing site links. Serious action need to be taken because current Google Webmastertools, Spam, Phishing and Abuse online report forms are useless.
WirelessPhil
3 / 5 (2) Sep 08, 2010
I have to agree with 'nada'. What Google offered was not what I wanted, not even close.
Google likes to fix things that are not broke and experiment on its users.
DamienS
5 / 5 (1) Sep 08, 2010
It might be of minor value, but it wasn't something I was screaming for to be fixed. I just wish they'd unfix their change to image search, which is now a disastrous mess!
bhiestand
5 / 5 (1) Sep 08, 2010
It's of minor value to me, but clearly of value to many other users. I see this as a Good Thing(TM) so long as you can disable it.

That said, I completely agree with DamienS about google's new image search. It's terrible and unwieldy.
baudrunner
not rated yet Sep 09, 2010
It's like the text entry completion thing. You begin typing and suggestions drop down into a list that evolves as you type. Then you left click on an appropriate one that best fits your search criteria's intentions. What I can't figure out, is Canada special? I've been playing with the feature for quite a while now, and yup, I like it, but it's not new here!
knikiy
not rated yet Sep 09, 2010
I don't need something to search this fast, but I much prefer something that is not skewed by commercial interests. I think this is what has led me to use other search engines in addition to Google for a "reality check".
StarDust21
not rated yet Sep 09, 2010
Sounds like hype to me. After all, if as Steven Wright would say, your "apartment was broken into and everything were replaced by exact duplicates!" - how would you know and why would you care?

So instead of the prior way of showing cached results, the results are now found on the fly - but the results are identical - who cares? Its stupid.

its not hype, it really is a technological feat, when I enter a search in google yesterday and noticed the suggestions were instantly showing in search results, I was speechless.
Skeptic_Heretic
not rated yet Sep 09, 2010
is Canada special?

Yes you are, now strap up that helmet and try not to throw poop in school.

(sorry, I had to do it)

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