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Google Testing Instant Search Feature 101

Posted by samzenpus
from the get-it-before-you-want-it dept.
adeelarshad82 writes "According to a recently released video, Google is currently testing an 'instant search' feature that changes search results as you type. The feature was first spotted over the weekend. At the moment Instant Search seems to be implemented on very few accounts. A Google spokesman could not confirm or deny the accuracy of the video saying that at any given moment Google is running 50 to 200 experiments."
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Google Testing Instant Search Feature

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  • Incremental find (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lyinhart (1352173) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @08:04AM (#33379534)
    So... incremental find for a search engine index? Might be one of the few new "experiments" from Google that turns out to be useful.
    • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

      by claytonjr (1142215)

      Um, just doing a reality check here... But this feature has been available to me for the last several months at least. Why is everyone acting like this is new? Last I checked, the car I drive isn't a delorean...

  • The video included in TFA looks nice, though not revolutionary. My first thought was that it would probably be easy enough to implement a client-side version of it -- basically refresh the search page every so often while the user is manipulating the query. Of course you'd have to do it in an AJAXy fashion so as not to interrupt the typing in the input field, which might be difficult. That requirement could be dropped if the user enters the query within the browser UI -- come to think of it, it's fairly rar

  • Watch the video, it looks really interesting. I think it would be really useful during those times when you're not getting the results you anticipated.

    I think it'll be more popular than Wave (okay, that was a low blow).

  • Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Stratoukos (1446161) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @08:10AM (#33379564)

    I see absolutely no point in this. While it looks cool, why would I want to see results for "chee", "cheese" or "cheese and b" when I'm searching for "cheese and biscuits"?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by $RANDOMLUSER (804576)
      Did you mean "cheese and biscuits" or "cheese + biscuits"?
    • by ascari (1400977)
      Because you might stumble on "cheese and beer" and discover a new favorite snack? Live a little, thanks to Google!
      • Cheese and beer??? Seriously, BEER?? Obviously, you're not a Mac person.
        • Beer. Yes, beer. I'm not even a beer lover, but a nice cold brew now and then is good. Screw the Mac people. Sure, I love a good Scotch whiskey - and I tolerate some wines alright. But beer. Hot summer day, you're so hot you just want to hide under a rock because that's the only shade in sight. You're MELTING - and puddling up in the bottom of your boots. Water sounds good - but someone offers you an ICE COLD BEER!! To hell with the water - grab the beer, and chug half of it down, then roll that co

        • What Mac people don't like beer now? What sort of bizarre cult is Jobs running over there?

        • by Laxori666 (748529)
          Cheese and beer cause GP already started typing "cheese and b". Cheese and bwine would be a bit strange.
        • While I love a good mac and cheese, cheese and beer would be awesome. How about mac, cheese AND beer?

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ByOhTek (1181381) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @08:26AM (#33379668) Journal

      Searching for Dickens could also provide some... undesirable side effects. Especially considering Google's habit of putting pictures in normal search results.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Searching for "vague" could also provide some... interesting results, especially considering how close "u" and "i" are. For those of you who are having this read out to you, I was referring to the letters "u" and "i" on a standard QWERTY keyboard.

        I wonder if searching for information on God would result in finding giddy girls as a result of a typo.

        Clearly, they should name this feature ITH - "Instant Typo Heaven".

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tverbeek (457094)

        Just try explaining to the cyber police that you were just starting to type in a search for "child portraiture studios" when all of those naughty pictures showed up on your computer.

      • by hairyfeet (841228)
        You definitely don't want to search for 'trans'missions then. but this brings up a good point: Will everyone have to keep the "nanny filter" on at work to keep from getting flagged when looking for something innocent? I'll just stick with my Yahoo Search, which tries to guess what I'm looking for but does NOT bring up search results until I hit enter. I still remember the old days when search engines would try to "help" you and the guesses they made were just awful, no thanks.
      • by mjwx (966435)

        Searching for Dickens could also provide some... undesirable side effects. Especially considering Google's habit of putting pictures in normal search results.

        Google doesn't auto-complete anything pornographic. They wont stop you from searching or alter the results but you wont be seeing a phallus, when searching for Dick Smith's Electronics.

    • Re:Why? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Rhaban (987410) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @08:27AM (#33379674)

      The instant search is not directly based on what you type, it is based on the suggestions google gives you.
      As you type "chee", you will see the results for "cheesecake", and for "cheese and b" you will have the results for "cheese and burger society".

      • Given the hilarity of some of the Google autosuggests, this could make using Google a lot more fun!

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Ephemeriis (315124)

      I see absolutely no point in this. While it looks cool, why would I want to see results for "chee", "cheese" or "cheese and b" when I'm searching for "cheese and biscuits"?

      From the point of view of a website looking for hits, there's more opportunity to come up in a search result. Joe's Cheese Emporium might not come up when you search for "cheese and biscuits", but it could come up as you typed out your search and had just "cheese" in there. This is a good thing if you're running a website.

      From the point of view of a user searching for information, you never know exactly what search terms are going to be relevant. Maybe I'm being too specific in my search terms and not ge

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      yeah ... what about the word "Analysis"

      • Don't forget "assassin," "titillation," "pussywillow," "Dick Cheney," "thick hot cumulonimbus clouds," ...

    • by Buggz (1187173)

      I see absolutely no point in this. While it looks cool, why would I want to see results for "chee", "cheese" or "cheese and b" when I'm searching for "cheese and biscuits"?

      I quite often find myself trying several slightly different search terms when I'm looking for something very specific. The video in TFA is just a proof-of-concept, a more practical use would be switching out/adding/removing a search term or two to get different results. All this without hitting the enter key every time (and maybe accidentally deleting the whole query because the textbox.text gets selected). It's a convenience thing.

    • by diegocg (1680514)

      why would I want to see results for "chee", "cheese" or "cheese and b"

      So don't look at the results while you type. That doesn't make the feature less worthwhile

    • There could be a delay on it so that it only runs the search after you stop typing for a certain period of time. So if you're searching for "cheese and biscuits", it won't return results for "c", "ch", "che", etc. But if you pause after "cheese", you'll get some search results. After you add " and biscuits", the results will update for the new query. Depending on how Google implements this, it could be very cool.

  • It has a name (Score:5, Insightful)

    by robi5 (1261542) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @08:10AM (#33379566)

    It's called incremental search and was introduced in the emacs text editor decades ago.

    A better invention would be to return relevant search results.

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yes, we all know emacs did it first.

      Relevant: http://xkcd.com/378/

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 26, 2010 @08:34AM (#33379726)

      Yes, because incremental search on a text editor and on a search engine are the exact same thing.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by SnowZero (92219)
        All you have to do is run:
          emacs http://*
        and then wait a really long time.
  • by cfryback (870729) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @08:12AM (#33379580)
    Can someone tell them to turn off the BING image view. Sorry, we're in the third world of Australia, and searching images is no, just epic FAIL.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Animaether (411575)

      Disable javascript on images.google.com/* ?

    • by Idiomatick (976696) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @09:22AM (#33380200)
      New image search is a nice improvement. BUT the new links you get aren't as nice. Somehow they seem slower loading for me.

      Why not actually load the page they are on and attach a little bit of code to stick the image over-top. if you click the x hide everything instantly. Why reload the whole god damn page?
      • New image search is a nice improvement. BUT the new links you get aren't as nice. Somehow they seem slower loading for me.

        Why not actually load the page they are on and attach a little bit of code to stick the image over-top. if you click the x hide everything instantly. Why reload the whole god damn page?

        I don't see how that could possibly work, how could Google "run a little bit of code" on someone else's website? Am I missing something?
        On the other hand just loading the page containing the image straight away, with no box, would be preferable to the current system.

    • by mgblst (80109)

      I agree with this, it is not as nice. Maybe a setting to use the old one, since I don't want to disable all javascript.

  • A useful feature (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hcs_$reboot (1536101) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @08:13AM (#33379582)
    That would be a valuable addition.
    Currently, many people rely on the word-completion from the search bar. For instance, one prefers to chose what comes from the propositions, since the results will be more numerous.
    With this new feature one can adapt in real time the search pattern to converge towards the desired results.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Idbar (1034346)
      I don't know about this and how would it work for them. As you just said many people rely on auto-completion (including me). Automatically returning results could probably mean that eventually the suggested auto-completion would be all incomplete because people never required to search for the whole thing, thus, suggestions may not only not be accurate but completely unintelligible.
  • by LeiraHoward (529716) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @08:23AM (#33379636) Homepage
    My google page did this sometime this past week. I wasn't logged in, it just randomly started doing it as part of the test... Personally, I hate it.

    You know how when you normally type in things, Google "suggests" what you might be looking for? And how, sometimes, those searches are, shall we say, "interesting" to say the least, or "NSFW" or just plain old weird? (For instance, try typing in "How do I" or "how do you" and see the odd results that occur... the ones I currently see are "get pregnant" and "start selling weed").

    Now, imagine having the results of those show up as you're trying to search for something else entirely.

    Frustrating, to say the least, and embarrassing or potentially job-threatening on some of those more risque searches.

    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by Pikoro (844299)
      Try typing in this without the quotes: "can i get ai" and look at the suggested completions. Talk about NSFW. That crap might get you fired
    • by swell (195815)

      Nonsense

      If your job is so precarious, you might as well start looking for another employer. The best spy software isn't going to record what pops up in that window

      I've been using this for a while now. I tried and saw the items you suggest 'get pregnant' etc among many other possibilities. These results come and go as you type and change almost instantly. It would take a sharp eye to notice 'how do i start selling weed' in that flurry. I fail to see how the process impairs your activities.

      It's easy to ignore

  • "...at any given moment Google is running 50 to 200 experiments."
    There is some guy saying developers should not have access to production servers..
    It seems Google doesn't give a damn to that!!

    As for orkut, I've seen bugs being fixed directly by the developer on the production server also. (Upon personal contact :) )
    • Yeah. My wife and I are in different countries right now and we have been making use of google latitude and calendars to keep us coordinated with the stuff we both need to get done. Google tools are useful but buggy. They give the impression that development stopped when they became useful and that nobody sees the need for improvement.

  • In depth search (Score:5, Interesting)

    by belthize (990217) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @08:26AM (#33379666)

    I wish they'd do the opposite. Admittedly getting results for many searches in 1.342 seconds is cool but occasionally I'd prefer much more specific results even if it takes minutes or longer. If they had a service that charged a few $/month that allowed for complex regex and context based searches I'd probably pay it without a seconds thought.

  • Imagine the intermediary search results if I search for "ASSault" or "ASSigning a variable in Python" or "CUMmington" or "CUMmerbun" [wikipedia.org] (yes, that's the correct spelling) or any other phrase that could be misconstrued by a company's internet filter as inappropriate.

    I can see it now - I search for ASSertionError and get a screen full of butt at work.

  • Could be scary if you are looking for "cocktail recipes" :-/
  • My vote would be to tone it down a bit and just flash up the first three results of the predictive search below the bar just to give you the flavor instead of the whole result. I think there are ways to do this already with browser extensions but I'm cool with my search as-is at the moment so haven't investigated.

    One could just make a little script that automatically presses enter every time you type a key in a google search bar and you'd have essentially the same thing. That actually sounds a little ann

  • by ColdGrits (204506) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @09:09AM (#33380062)
    ...for anyone doing a search on the term analyst.
    Or searching for information about shitake mushrooms.
    Or looking for the latest football results for Arsenal.
    Or cocktail recipes.
  • Ad Impressions (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dmomo (256005) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @09:22AM (#33380190) Homepage

    Does each ad that pops up during this phase count as an "impression"? This would really screw with the Advertisers.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by tecmec (870283)
      Google charges per click though.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You don't pay CPM on Google, it's Cost Per Click. Wouldn't make the slightest difference except to slightly shift the Click Through Rate.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I thought advertisers paid for clicks, not impressions?

  • seizure time (Score:2, Interesting)

    I personally can't wait to see Google seizure between every word I type in. Great idea guys... How annoying would it be if someone tried to answer a question that you were asking after every word you said?
    • How annoying would it be if someone tried to answer a quest

      Not that annoying. I have like fifty dire rats in my cellar, and I'm willing to give thirty gp to anyone who's willing to clear them out.

  • It has already been pointed out, by Schneier I think, that this misfeature allows anybody doing simple traffic analysis to discover exactly what you typed. That is because the reply traffic from typing 'a' is a slightly different size than the reply traffic from typing 'b', and so forth.

    • by mestar (121800)

      Schneier is a self promoting idiot.

    • It has already been pointed out, by Schneier I think, that this misfeature allows anybody doing simple traffic analysis to discover exactly what you typed. That is because the reply traffic from typing 'a' is a slightly different size than the reply traffic from typing 'b', and so forth.

      The problem with that concept is that, given the way Google works, the reply traffic from typing 'a' at one point in time will be different in size from the reply traffic from typing 'a' at a different point in time (and, wi

  • Nice features like this come at a cost. Google is a nice web site when using my web tablet, but I guess I'll have to turn Javascript off when using it in the future.

    Feature-itis strikes a once-elegant interface. :-(

  • It surprises me that no-one has mentioned Keyboardr [keyboardr.com], which offers this kind of live search functionality.
  • If I know the first few letters of the word, the search engine will suggest accurate spellings as I type. If I really mangle the spelling, I type the whole thing in, then click search and hope google offers an alternative correct spelling.
  • How is this news. This has been happening to me when I use Google for several months.

    Like any "feature", sometime it is very useful, sometimes not.

    Big deal....

  • That video looks faked, or at least sped up. With all the network latency involved, there should be a slightly noticeable delay while new content loads, especially regarding the images.
  • ... to not use Google.

    There is little in the world of SW that I find more disgusting than these "screw you around while you type" features, like, search as you type, autocorrect in wordprocessors, and now "Instant Search". I really hate it when producers of code think they can outsmart the user; programs are tools, tools are not supposed to take the initiative - the user should be in control. Just imagine your circular saw taking the initiative to remove that finger of yours, that is so obviously in the way

  • I think it looks quite cool actually, they've tried a number of things messing about with their search engine but ever since autocomplete functionality launched in the Firefox search bar I've wondered where this kind of feature it's been all my web surfing life and when Google are going to roll it into their main search results. Can't wait for it to graduate from Labs!

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