It's auto-complete on steroids.
Visitors to Google's U.S. homepage may have noticed a slight change to the way the search engine operates. The company has ditched the search button and is instead taking people directly to the results page with a new feature called Google Instant.
Revealed today at an event at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Google's Marrisa Meyer also blogged about Google Instant, explaining the concept to users. The idea is pretty simple. Instead of having to type your search terms into the box and hit search to see the results, Google will show you the results instantly, and update them as you type. Google Suggestions still appear in the drop-down menu to help you with your search.
Meyer explains that though it may seem like the idea is kind of redundant, ("No one wants search results for [bike h] in the process of searching for [bike helmets]"), Google Instant doesn't actually show you constantly updating search results for exactly what you're typing. Rather it predicts the most likely search and shows you those results. Say you type 'Tom's H' into Google. Google Instant will immediately pull up the results for the most popular search associated with what 'Tom's H.' Google will then show you what results you're looking at, by autocompleting the rest of the search term, with the additional letters in grey.
Check out the example below to see how it works:
Google Instant seems like a simple progression from auto-complete but plenty had to be done behind the scenes to make it possible.
Google estimates that the new instant search feature will save users a combined 11 hours per second. Yowza!