iPhone & Android Users Have Google’s Instant Search

Google Instant is going mobile. Google unveiled Instant, a search-as-you-type approach that works to serve up results on the fly with each keystroke, in September.

Google developed Instant based on the idea of searching for partial queries and providing some interactive feedback while searching. Google’s approach offers results for the most likely search, given what has already been entered into the search box. You might call it predictive search.

With Instant, Google believes it has developed a system that is able to scale while searching as fast as people can type and think without compromising the relevancy of its results. The overarching advantage is a time savings.

Instant Mobile Results

Google is now making Instant available on most iPhone and Android devices in the U.S. Consumers can turn on Instant by going to google.com in their phone’s browser and tapping the Google Instant “Turn on” link beneath the search box.

Like the desktop version of Google Instant, when consumers type on their mobile device they will see predictions of what they might be searching for. If users type “anse,” for example, they should see “ansel adams” along with other predictions. Results for the first prediction appear automatically, and tapping on the other predictions displays those results. Pressing the enter key or the search button skips the predictions and will display results for exactly what you’ve typed.

“With Google Instant on mobile, we’re pushing the limits of mobile browsers and wireless networks,” said Steve Kanefsky, a software engineer at Google. “You will probably notice a big improvement in speed when you search, thanks to a new AJAX and HTML5 implementation for mobile that dynamically updates the page with new results and eliminates the need to load a new page for each query.”

Android Impacts

Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence, said Google Instant may motivate some people to use search more often on their mobile devices, and it may generate more mobile-search volume.

“I suspect this will have a bigger impact on Android devices than on the behavior of iPhone users,” Sterling said. “I don’t know the precise numbers, but much of iPhone search-query volume comes through the Safari toolbar. Once instant comes to the toolbar — which I believe it’s supposed to — that will more directly impact browser-based search queries.”

Auto-complete and search suggest already exist for the Google iPhone app, so Sterling said there’s not going to be much change for those users. But the bottom line: “More queries equals more clicks and additional mobile-search revenue,” Sterling said.

Kanefsky said Google Instant for mobile works best on 3G and Wi-Fi networks, but since the quality of any wireless connection can fluctuate, Google allows users to enable or disable Google Instant without leaving a page by tapping the “Turn on” or “Turn off” link.
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