By now you've probably already noticed that there's something different about Google's search page: it's started giving you your results before you've even finished typing.
In a move that builds on the company's experience with auto-suggestions, where partial text matches would be compared to previous searches to guess what you might be searching for, Google has gone to the next level; start typing your query on the Google homepage and you'll instantly start seeing a list of results.
It's a neat idea, and one that demonstrates the power and scalability of Google's platform. We all know that Google searches untold billions of pages incredibly
quickly, but there's knowing it and there's seeing
it happen in real time
right before your eyes.
Dubbed Google Instant, and having been hinted at with a colour-changing logo over the last few days, it's a feature not without its critics. Search engine optimisation pundits, in particular, are concerned that the feature could render their entire business obsolete. Steve Rubel, of Edelman Digital, posted to his personal blog
the opinion that "what [Google] really did [with Google Instant] is kill SEO
" - a sentiment shared by many in the PR and SEO industries.
Google, for its part, is full of confidence that Google Instant will make people's lives better. Based on a saving of 2-5 seconds per search, the company claims that global use of the service could save "more than 3.5 billion seconds a day - that's 11 hours saved every second.
For those who aren't convinced about the new functionality, there's good news: there's a link to disable Google Instant on each search page, or it can be toggled in your Preferences.
Whether Google Instant proves to be a success, or just a way for the company to show off the power and speed of its search platform remains to be seen.
Have you played with Google Instant, and if so, what's your opinion? Does it really save you time, or are you distracted by the constantly shifting results screen? Share your thoughts over in the forums