back to article Google pulls trigger on 'Instant' search engine

Update: This story has been continually updated with additional info from Google's press event. Google has unveiled what it calls Google Instant, a "streaming" version of its search engine that rejigs results pages in "real-time" as you type individual characters into its search box. "Today's announcement does represent what …


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  1. ElSpeedo

    How much for "A"

    So how much will google charge to be result #1 for the letter "A"?

  2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Well, it's live already in Hemel...

    Seems to work.

    Admittedly, the second hit as you get to 'paris el re' refers to a well known film starring Marlon Brando and a stick of butter...

  3. Smokey Joe

    Dear Google

    I'm done with ya.

    Default search engine changed - check!

    Bookmark removed - check!

    Goodbye and have fun.

    1. TimeMaster T


      Don't be selfish! Share!

      what search engine are you switching too?

      I want to switch too.

      Seriously. Google is starting down that slope that leads to cheesy irrelevance.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Search engines

        I've set Cuil to be my default search engine. It's not very good at technical stuff but I nice clean interface and some interesting additional stuff like timelines and vaguely related stuff. Cpedia is even more when researching.

      2. Noons

        going google-free

        Been using duckduckgo for a a few weeks now, quite happy with it.

      3. Wize

        Just how do you search...

        ...for a search engine?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Yes, because clicking the button that disables it is far too challenging for the technologically illiterate like yourself.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down


        ...having to click a button to make a UI tolerable shows off the non-skill of the coders and the non-value of their work. No, they're not developers, developers don't fsck with customers.

  4. Spiracle

    Smirk as you type

    Compare what happens when searching for "farthing" and "title". Interesting.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Opera users blocked by Google browser-sniffing

    Wow, Google is blocking Opera users from seeing the "Instant" results; just like the last two days of doodles, unless you change the Opera user-agent string to Firefox or IE.

    That's not even funny.

    Stay classy, Google.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Steven Knox


      It's a good thing I:

      1. search from Opera's search box,

      2. would prefer not to waste bandwdth on this kind of shenanigans, and

      3. really don't have much respect for Google to begin with.

      Otherwise I would be quite miffed at their lack of [programming ability/awareness of the best browser available] (choose whichever option works for you -- or both.)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have a feeling...

    That this is going to confuse a lot of people, especially the elderly.

  7. Pablo

    Could be kind of awkward

    I can think of any number of search term that would likely yield disturbing results if submitted incomplete. Shitaki mushrooms... rape hotlines... lolita fashion. But I suppose I'm safe from this as long as I've got scripts turned off.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      kiddie porn



      This sounds like a really bad idea.

  8. TimeMaster T
    Thumb Down


    2-5 seconds per search, right.

    I'll use the time I save every day for an extra exasperated sigh at all the effort that goes into doing something stupid just because it sounds like a good idea.

    Anybody know of another search engine that is what Google >used< to be, you know, clean, simple and none of this "look at the l337 stuff I can do with a script" BS?

  9. Geoff Johnson

    Nautical instruments

    What happens if you're looking for a sextant?

    And I dread to think what happens if you want to do any analysis.

    1. mmiied


      sex gets you sex and the city reviews

      sext gets you vidios for sexting

      sexta gets you restults for sextant

      could thius be some sort of new sport?

    2. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD


      So now one can be done at work for searching for porn.


  10. Anthony Shortland
    Thumb Down

    2-5s slower more like

    two issues here..... firstly the ajax like most ajax type sites isnt instant, i'm not even sure i'd go as far as near instant. I wouldnt go as far as slow.... just a definite lag.

    secondly, dunno about everyone else, but im finding im typing my search in much slower and watching the results appear instead of typing at full normal typing speed with a return key at the end.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      typing slower?

      You mean decreasing your productivity?

      Perhaps they're targeting Microsoft/Yahoo/Oracle/Chinese ip addresses????

  11. David Given
    Thumb Down

    vs. Chromium

    Kind of a shame that it makes the current Chromium nightly for Ubuntu fall over more or less immediately...

  12. Sodabread
    Thumb Down

    Switching off...

    I guess it's just about time to complete my switch over to Startpage.

  13. nickrw

    Does nobody...

    Two people already saying "But what if you type in <naughty word> as part of another word or phrase?!"

    It searches based on *suggestions* not on just every character you type. So it's less crappy than the rumors suggested, but I can still see it getting annoying quickly.

  14. cwjstone

    Google Strikes Again

    As an internet marketer this is very exciting.

    This now puts google on the map with Twitters instant search feature.

    Watch out for Google Instant Ads =)


  15. Benny
    Thumb Down

    I noticed this earlier

    and its damn annoying!

    I was reading the results, whilst typing in some extra search words, and the damn thing started changing. Not helpful in the slightest!

  16. e-bob

    The UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, and Russia will follow within the week.

    Maybe it's just me, but it's live in the UK already. It's irritating to say the least, though I'm sure I'll get used to it.

    @Geoff Johnson - it brings up "Sex and The City" when you enter the first three letters of sextant. And Google Analytics when you enter "anal"... just so you know... ;)

  17. mark a.


    Does anyone know why it won't work in Opera? (It's working in Chrome here.)

    1. Steven Knox

      As mentioned above...

      Google uses a particularly stupid browser-sniffing algorithm that doesn't realize that Opera can handle this type of thing, despite the fact that the DOM standards include tests for actual functionality that any programmer with more than a passing familiarity could have implemented easily.

      I suggest you either (A) change your Opera settings to impersonate Firefox, or, (B) be thankful for their gaffe and avoid this waste of bandwidth, depending on your taste for this sort of thing.

      1. mark a.
        Thumb Up


        Thanks Steven. I'm used to Google not really working for some things on Opera (e.g. Picasa Web), so I'll let things be whilst we all get used to the instant search.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    I have to give it to Google!

    just when I thought "Search" couldn't get any more annoying and bandwidth hogging, they managed to make it more so. And of course, a wonderful side effect is that it uses more energy on their servers, the user's PC, and the net itself, thus allowing search to contribute even more to global warming.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    ugh, NO!

    So much for next week in the uk... either way. I'm going to block this for all users on our network, we ahve limited resources and flashy gimics are not welcome (also this is a school environment so "wont sombody think of the children" :P )

    1. David 141

      The arrogance of the sysadmin

      "I'm going to block this for all users on our network..."

      BOFH at work...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down


        It's quite beautiful, isn't it? Wish we could do the same thing. "Never underestimate the importance of fast" - and if you're Google just forget about the cost of bandwith because OF COURSE everybody has enough. Idiots the lot... At least we've gotten rid of streaming. Took a bit of work and left a few execs bleeding in dark corners of the basement, but we'll manage.

  20. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Down

    So what this probably means...

    ... is that Google can serve you "targetted ads" even quicker...

  21. bertie bassett

    'adult' filter working well.

    Good to see they didn't get the obvious fail on adult terms - even clever enough to cope with 1st word acceptable, 2nd word = dodgy. Managed not to fail on scunthorpe or even some film about a couple of girls. even copes with foreign language terms

    Good work oh google overlords

  22. Pinkerton

    Ooooh, I don't like change!

    For crying out loud!

    All you lot moaning and whining and whingeing about this feature and saying you're going to boycott Google, firebomb Mountain View or have Eric Schmidt indicted for crimes against humanity: How hard is it to click on the 'Instant is on' link, a gnat's to the right of the search button, to switch it off?


  23. Anonymous Coward

    This is all about ad revenue

    This is all about ad revenue and ad impressions. Typing a 10 character search term? You just saw 10 sets of ad impressions instead of one. 10x the ads = 10x the google adsense profit.

  24. Steve 41

    Results or Search Suggestion?

    I'm afraid that's the last straw for me, as I see it this will probably trend people to search for what Google want you to search for, and then what the highest bidder wants you to search for. The search suggestions was bad enough, rarely came up with what I was actually wanting to search for. Now I have to see the results I don't want too?

    Mind you, I use Opera so I guess I'll be lucky for a while.

  25. mittfh

    Firefox Start

    It's invaded and, but so far doesn't appear to have invaded the Firefox Start page (which loads fine in Chrome):

    PS. As for the sextant, the top results for the first three letters relate to a certain TV programme featuring Sarah Jessica Parker.

    As for single letters, here's the alphabet according to Google:

    A is for Argos

    B is for BBC

    C is for Currys

    D is for Debenhams

    E is for Ebay

    F is for Facebook

    G is for Google Maps

    H is for Hotmail

    I is for ITV

    J is for John Lewis

    K is for KLM

    L is for Lotto (UK National Lottery)

    M is for MSN

    N is for Next

    O is for O2 (the company, not the molecule)

    P is for PayPal

    Q is for QVC

    R is for RightMove

    S is for Sky (Rupert Murdoch's baby)

    T is for Tesco (you have to type tw for you-know-what)

    U is for YouTube (I kid you not!)

    V is for Virgin (Virgin Atlantic being the top result)

    W is for Weather

    X is for XBox

    Y is for YouTube (again!)

    Z is for Zara

    What about Google by Numbers?

    0 is for O2 (oh two)

    1 is for 192 (dot com)

    2 is for 24 (TV Series) on Wikipedia

    3 is for 3 (the mobile phone network)

    4 is for 4OD (Channel 4's video on demand service)

    5 is for 5 day weather (BBC then Met Office)

    6 is for 6 music (the radio station saved from the axeman)

    7 is for 7zip (the open source compression software)

    8 is for 8 Ball

    9 is for 90210 (TV series) on Wikipedia

    1. Paul_Murphy


      >T is for Tesco (you have to type tw for you-know-what)

      You mean tf for twitter - I was thinking of something else entirely.

      Ok - I'll be off I need to clean up the stains on this coat anyway


    2. AC-This-Isn't-Facebook

      Title Required

      Those would be geo-location suggested results for the UK. May very well be different in the USA for example.

  26. skeptical i

    Can still use the browser search bar unmolested, yes?

    I don't think I've used the actual Google homepage in donkeys years.

  27. Bryce Prewitt

    "One million times the information stored in all the libraries in the US..."

    ...almost all of it useless. That's the real headline here - not this crap about Google's new "Instantly Find Even More Spectacularly Irrelevant-to-your-Search Results" feature.

    I remember when I had high hopes for the (all-encompassing) internet. This isn't rose-tinted glasses talking - I remember full well how awful Usenet was _even before_ Eternal September - I just can't help but think that, despite the fact that we have nearly limitless access to information, most of it is far more useless (and quickly becoming harder to find, especially in regards to correct, relevant info) than that which we could find by stepping into a library or by picking up a phone and calling an expert on the subject. I hold no illusions here - people probably spent more time playing MUDs back in 1990 than they ever did writing scripts to calculate new and infinitely higher prime numbers.

    Perhaps it was just the fact that we were all interacting with a newborn technology that was constantly changing and constantly being innovated. It's fairly safe to say that a lot of semi-underground pop culture felt the sea change coming - look at how deeply invested in concepts as abstract as the world wide web and the internet books like "Neuromancer" and "Snow Crash" were. They had all the hope in the world, as did we. I think every engineer who reads The Register can remember the days when we all hoped that every home would have a computer in it, so that mom, dad and little Timmy could get online and better their lives through free access to education and information, where all three could communicate with friends and family across the world and talk to new, interesting and often times strange people in other countries. What a great concept.

    Too bad it got proper fucked. You know what you can do for me, Google, instead of finding ways to make your homepage utterly unusable shite? Create the metaverse and let me ride a virtual motorcycle down to a virtual library where I pull out from the shelf one of the millions of public domain books you ripped off, at which point I'll likely find a far better written, far more concise and far more useful answer to my question than any of your fucking "results" are likely to provide these days.

  28. Deadly_NZ

    Well if you want to stick with the gooey chocolate

    Thank god for FF with ghostery, no script, flash block, ad block, and my favorite Google sharing.. and Scroogle for a nice clean search...

    that keeps the choccy factory at bay

  29. heyrick Silver badge

    Google, FFS...

    Instead of trying to read my mind to predict what I am trying to look up, why don't you read my mind to predict what I am looking FOR?

    Image search "cute japanese girl", about half the results range from soft porn to OMFG-I-didn't-know-that-was-possible. Funny, I tend to think cute girls look cuter with their clothes ON, 'cos they all kinda look alike otherwise...

    And why is Boris Johnson in the 15th round of results? He's neither Japanese, nor cute, nor a girl.

    And that's just one thing. I bet readers here have dozens of stories of interesting Google searches gone awry. So if you want to data slurp in epic scale, at least give us a search that is always accurate and always correct. You can do that, can't you?


    I'm Feeling Not So Lucky

    When I use the auto-suggest answers I usually type a few letters, scroll down the list and then use right-arrow to select the item off the menu, then click search. However this process now takes me directly to the first search result, meaning I don't see the results and I'm less likely to view any related ads. Apart from adversely affecting ad impressions I think this places greater emphasis on initial keyword advertising and organic 1st position ranking.

  31. Witty username


    i thought i was going mad, or just over tired.

  32. SEG
    Paris Hilton

    Image Search

    It doesn't work for image search where it might have actually been useful. I can think of a couple of situations where being able to home in on the image I want before I finish typing could be useful.

  33. Gordon Pryra

    Whats the problem?

    If you don't like Google, then go use Bing

    Otherwise, stfu

  34. John Geddes

    Brilliant move by Google

    Alongside the "we just want to help people get results quicker" angle, there is a subtler motivation for Google.

    I am pretty sure that more people enter search terms from the General to the Specific than vice versa: people enter "Kitchen Worktops in Coventry" more than they enter "Coventry Kitchen Worktops".

    By serving results before the customer has finished typing, Google are encouraging more people to act on a broad search term rather than a specific one.

    That hands a gift to national/international operators whose sites make onto the front page of broad-term results an organic basis. So far, that’s not worth anything to Google. But everyone else will find themselves competing for Sponsored Links using the same few broad search terms, which will result in the auction price zooming up. That does make a difference to Google.

    It will make life more expensive for mid-scale operators, who will end up spending more on Google if they want to keep their traffic flowing. But it might have even bigger impact on smaller players.

    A small hotel in Coventry might have featured well on “Hotel in Coventry” – or might have been able to afford to buy a Sponsored Link for “Hotel in Coventry”. But with Google Instant, they will see a proportion of those searchers being tempted away by the listings that appear as soon as they have typed “Hotel”.

    That small hotel will not have a hope of a front-page organic listing for “Hotel”. Nor will they have a hope of affording to bid for a Sponsored Link for “Hotel” (their click-through rate would be so much lower than a chain that their bid would have to be astronomical).

    So, forget the disintermediation that we were told would be the result of the web. Google Instant is just one small step along the road which is forcing that small hotel to pay to appear on an aggregator site which can compete on a national/international scale.

    (I don't live in Coventry, or run a hotel, by the way).

  35. Anonymous Coward

    11 hours saved per second

    11 hours saved... = 39600 seconds saved every second.

    2-5 per used, take 2, suggests 19,800 users search per second.

    That's lower than I thought.... or I could just be naff at maths.

  36. STurtle

    Works amazingly well

    I don't get the whining here. I love the new instant search!

    It is especially useful if you do not know the exact search term, e.g. if I look for information about something in Germany, it is sometimes better to use search terms in English, sometimes better in German. So I first type in the base term or name, and then try the English term - if I see that this brings the wrong kind of results, I just hit backspace and type the German term or try a different refinement.

    On the other hand, when I know exactly what I am looking for then I hit "Ctrl-L gg <search term" and are not bothered at all by instant search. It's called "Keyword" in Firefox.

    So what is the silly whining about?

  37. SEG

    And the point is?

    Just tried this and it nearly made my eyes fall out. Trying to concentrate on what I'm typing in whilst also looking at the changing result pain is going to give me a headache. I will be using the extra seconds I save for taking some migraine tablets.

  38. Alpha Tony

    Bandwidth/ad views

    Maybe I am being really dense here, but doesn't this mean that (once this goes live) if I type 'The Register' into Google it will effectively have performed 12 separate searches by the time I finish the sentence?

    So this would presumably use 12 times as much of my bandwidth.

    Also I don't use google advertising - is it all 'pay per click' or is some of it paid for by the number of times the ad is served? If the latter surely this is about revenue - They start serving ads the moment anything is typed in the box and as the word/sentence develops they serve different ads for each letter entered. Cha-ching!

  39. ForthIsNotDead

    A win for Google

    I like how they have spun the story as though it's some huge benefit to the user. Of course, in actual fact, it's a huge benefit to Google. It means many more advert impressions per search term.

    If I type "java netbeans platform" with the present system, google get one opportunity to serve paid-for ads. Now they get an apportunity for (possibly) every letter you type?

    That means a lot more expense for the people taking out adverts, and a lot more money for Google.

  40. ChristyA
    Thumb Down


    Saw it. Hated it. Turned it off.

    Wonder what the next stupid 'improvement' will be?

  41. Anonymous Coward

    Mega Money

    So does that mean if you type a 10 letter word in slowly it might do 10 searches displaying 10 sets of results = 10* the advertising revenue to google?


  42. Haku

    Oooo shiny new interface!

    That's neat.

    Just one question:

    How do you turn the damn thing off?

    1. tardigrade
      Dead Vulture

      How hard can it be?

      Right next to the Search button. The bit that says "Instant is on", the bit that's in front of your eyes, toggle it to off.

      1. Haku


        how do you permanently turn it off on every PC you happen to use?

        Just because something has been advanced beyond it's original design doesn't mean it's better than the original design.

        More bloody eye-candy on the web :/

  43. John Joyce
    Thumb Down


    Just means you get all that Google crap 2 seconds earlier? Why don't they do something useful like take all the spam out of search, so I don't have to go to page 48 to get passed all the ads.........

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