Random Errors

You’re Gonna Love It (Or Not) In an Instant

By September 9, 2010 No Comments

So I write a column for the UAF Sun Star that runs weekly. It deals with technology, and I get paid. Not too shabby, putting that Journalism degree of mine to some work. Anyway, THIS is that column.

By now I’m sure you have heard of Google Instant, and if not, go visit Google.com and experience it first hand. I found more than 10 blogs heralding the magic that Google Instant will bring to your browsing life. Everything from “shaving seconds” to “quick, quick, quick” are associated with this new feature. What is it and how will it change your life? You don’t have to click Search anymore. That’s about it.

Now, I am not a total curmudgeon. I think the technology itself is quite impressive, as is the final presentation. When you type something into Google, without even finishing, it takes its best guess and fills the screen with instant results. This is similar to how your cell phone assumes a word starting with the letter “S” means “Spunk” when you send a text message… or at least mine does. The constant predicting, refreshing and updating are brought about by a fancy programming language called AJAX that allows those instant updated results to be, well, instant.

Not only does Google give you these instant suggestions, it also displays the top link results below the search box automatically as you type. Completing words isn’t even necessary anymore, unless your search term is not a common one.

Using my name as the test subject, the “J” resulted in Java programming. The “e” provided links to the 2010 Jeep Wrangler, while the”r” let me catch up on what’s happening in Miami with full episodes of the Jersey Shore. At this point I was completely distracted and had to find out what was going on between Snookie and Vinnie. I do not think this was a planned result. However, I am easily distracted. It does seem like a total conspiracy though with Google Instant running interference through my attention span.

Speaking of conspiracies, people who use Google to look up naughty words (mainly body parts and the like), get no instant love. Those kinds of searches require a press of the old Search button. I think it may be for the best that there are no real-time search results available for more risqué content. I wouldn’t want to be the one explaining the instant results for “adult education” to my college-bound Aunt. Or “Pussycat Dolls” to my niece.

Introduced with Instant are a couple shortcuts and features that I have found fairly handy. If you press the Tab key, you can auto-complete your search with the top result. The Up and Down arrow keys can be used to sort through those text-predicted results. There are even preset search results when you type a single letter, ala’ alphabet books: “f” is for Facebook, “l” is for Lowes and “x” is for Xbox.

At Google’s press conference where they announced Instant, the letter “w” was typed and the amazed crowd was immediately viewing the local weather forecast. Of course, you can also simply type “weather” and press Search for the same result… but I suppose that just takes too long.

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