Meet “Google Instant”: Your Search Engine Is Now “Psychic”

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Marisa Mayer, Google's perky vice-president of Search Product and User Experience, just wound down her presentation at today's big press event. Consider the mystery behind yesterday's mysterious interactive logo revealed. Welcome to Google Instant, "search at the speed of thought," streaming or real-time search that automatically updates the list of search results and predicted search terms with each keystroke you type — no need to hit a search button. Search? Search, search, search! As Mayer explained it to the crowd at the MoMA in San Francisco, it takes users a slothful nine seconds to enter their search terms into Google and another fifteen seconds (more like an eternity, am I right?) to select a result. But until now, no innovative feature could improve on "the speed for typing and selecting a result" and "the physical speed for thinking" (this will even help you, slow-brains!). It is a pretty delicious feeling — like touching the future, or a cloud — to imagine the results updating so instantaneously beneath the search box, but as Mayer explains, it's even more than that.

"A lot of people think it's search as you type, but it's actually search before you type. We're predicting what query you're likely to do — giving you results for that. There's a psychic element!" Later today, Instant will be available on Chrome, Firefox, Safari (sigh of relief for Steve Jobs and moms who have not learned about Firefox), and IE8.

Mayer's closing remarks before the Q&A: Over the course of the year, they anticipate that Google Instant will save 350 million hours of users' time.

And now we see the downside: censorship. AdAge reporter Irina Slutsky got up to ask why Google Instant wasn't working for her last name, or the name of her great-grandfather, Eugen Slutsky, the man behind the Slutsky equation. Google responded that in order to make search child-safe, auto-complete doesn't work on violence and pornography. For that you'll have to type the term in and actually hit send. Google, always making life harder for angry perverts.

Real-time Footage of the Press Event [YouTube]