Google unveiled Google Instant on September 8. By most accounts, it’s an impressive step forward in search technology that brings us closer to immediate gratification.
Until now, most of the time related to searching was spent typing a query and then evaluating the answers. Typically, one would type a query, hit enter, review the results and then click through to see if an item on the results page was responsive. And then, rinse and repeat until you found what you wanted or gave up trying. With Google Instant, Google offers search results to you before you finish typing your query. With every character you type, Google attempts to predict your query and serves up search results that it thinks will meet your need. In other words, Google plays a version of Name that Tune with you — trying to identify the song you have in mind using the fewest notes possible.
So how much time will Google Instant save? Google estimates that a typical search takes approximately 25 seconds. With Google Instant, you can shave 2-5 seconds off every search. What does this mean in aggregate terms? According to Google, “If everyone uses Google Instant globally, we estimate this will save more than 3.5 billion seconds a day. That’s 11 hours saved every second.”
Even still, I couldn’t help thinking “close but no cigar.” To be honest, while it’s awfully nice that Google can make accurate predictions based on just a few letters in a search box, what I really want is for Google to predict my query and serve up helpful results … before my fingers even touch the keyboard! This is what I call Google Blink (i.e., getting results in a blink of an eye). As it turns out, Google’s engineers have already considered this possibility, but called it MentalPlex. With MentalPlex, all you have to do is stare at the Google MentalPlex page, “project a mental image of what you want to find” and then that action alone will trigger the display of responsive search results. Now that’s more like it! Although this may be my fondest wish for search technology, as far as I know, it’s not yet more than an April Fool’s joke for Google.
All joking aside, why should we care about Google Instant or, better still, what I’m calling Google Blink? To quote Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, “Never underestimate the importance of fast…speed matters cuz your time matters.”
If you’ve got 90 minutes to spare and would like to learn more about Google Instant, here’s the video of the launch announcement:
Alternatively, here’s a quick overview that will take less than two minutes of your time:
Finally, here’s Google Instant served up with a side of Bob Dylan: