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September 8, 2010

Google Instant live search results feature introduced

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by Darren Allan

As we guessed this morning, today’s Google doodle did indeed hint at the real-time search feature the company has just rolled out.

If you go to the Google UK site now (while signed in to your Google account), and start typing in a search query, it will attempt to predict what you’re looking for as you type not only with search suggestions, but actual live search results will appear below the search box.

So, if you’re searching for “carpets”, when you’ve got as far as typing in “car”, a list of results for Carphone Warehouse news, stock information and so on will be displayed. If you’re searching for “analysts”, then ensure you type very, very, quickly (actually, there’s no need because any inappropriate content is filtered).

This live search process is called Google Instant, and while it may seem a little disconcerting at first – having lots of results flash by underneath as you’re typing away can be rather distracting – the feature has some interesting nuances.

It also takes your location into account, so if you start typing something beginning with “W”, not only will the first thing that pops up be “weather”, but the first page result returned will be the weather in your local(ish) area.

We’re still not convinced of its usefulness on anything but rare occasions, mind you, but we’ll have to use it for a while to see exactly what the score is. At any rate, if you don’t like it, you can turn off the feature using the drop down menu to the right of the search box.

However, Google is sure you’ll love it, funnily enough, and claims on its blog that it will be a definite time saver: “Our testing has shown that Google Instant saves the average searcher two to five seconds per search. That may not seem like a lot at first, but it adds up. With Google Instant, we estimate that we’ll save our users 11 hours with each passing second!”

Currently, Google Instant is being rolled out to the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and Spain, with more countries coming soon. It works under IE8, Firefox, Chrome and Safari, for those who are signed in to their Google account.

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