With the huge rise in the use of mobile devices, and to promote design consistency across platforms, Google has dropped its Instant Search feature for desktops.
What Is Instant Search
Introduced in 2010, Google Instant Search offers pre-emptive, dynamically generated search results as you type, and was, at first, a revolutionary experience, as desktop users were given possible search results based on their history, thus simplifying and speeding up the act of searching. Google estimated that collectively, millions of seconds per hour could be saved by suggesting search results.
Fast forward 7 years and studies have now shown that Internet search via mobile has grown so much that Google Instant Search on desktops is being left behind. In 2015 alone, Google recorded that more than half of Google searches happened on mobile, and Instant Search can’t be used as easily or effectively on a mobile device as it can on a desktop.
A Design Concern
The move to immediately remove Instant Search will, therefore, bring desktop searches in line with mobile searches that have never offered Instant Search from the start.
Suggested search results powered by auto-complete now show up in the standard drop-down menu. The results page will not load in real time. When desktop users use Google Search, they will see search suggestions that Google provides. They will actually have to click on those suggestions to see results.
Google reportedly believes that dropping Instant Search should make search more fluid on all devices.
The Instant Search phase out news comes on the same day as Google appears to have started to roll out auto-play theatrical trailers before YouTube videos. This is a sign that Google is maximising the opportunity of reconfiguring not only its Google search but also YouTube.
The third bit of Google news is that it has launched SOS as an alert feature for Search. This tool is designed to help users in times of crises. SOS is designed to give out all the essential information about any natural or human-caused disaster. According to Google, maps, top stories, and authoritative local information like emergency phone numbers, websites, and translations of useful phrases, can be accessed by users via the tool, thus helping their chances of keeping safe and avoiding problem areas.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
For many users, pages loading in the background as you typed, and receiving a number of search results that weren’t that relevant to what you were typing was an annoyance and a hindrance, and many people will be glad to see the back of Instant Search. It also makes no sense to keep a service that doesn’t work well on mobiles since mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) are now widely used for business and home. Back in November last year for example, StatCounter figures showed 51.3% of global web traffic accessing the web using smartphones and tablets.
This story illustrates how important mobile devices are now, and some tech commentators have said that killing off Instant Search, and prioritizing mobile websites in a personalised feed is part of Google’s desire to make users spend more time in search.