Google Instant Provides Predictive Search

Google explains the Google Doodle mystery and reveals new Google Instant search technology designed to deliver faster search results and keep rivals Bing and Yahoo at bay.

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Google Sept. 8 introduced a faster way of searching the Web with Google Instant, which surfaces search results as users type their queries.

Google Instant, which the company hinted at through a Sept. 7 Google Doodle made of bouncing balls, is a predictive search technology.

Where Google Suggest provides search suggestions when users type queries in the search box, Instant extends this capability by guessing users' queries as they begin to type them.

At a news event held to announce the technology at the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco, Marissa Mayer, vice president of search products and user experience for Google, said Google Instant was designed to accelerate the search process for users.

Users tend to spend 9 seconds on average entering a search query into Google, Mayer said. After they hit the search button, the query spends an average of 300 milliseconds traversing Google's servers before results hurtle back to the users, who spend an average of 15 seconds picking a selection from the results.

That's almost half a minute from time of entry to result selection. Google Instant is an effort to shave time off the task by predicting what users are looking for as they type, bypassing the search button.

As each query option surfaces, so do the results that accompany that query, with predictive next words of a query shaded in light gray.

Users needn't accept the top result offered in the search box; they may scroll up and down in the search box pull-down menu to select other Instant search results. Results change on the fly as users arrow up and down.