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Google Testing Instant Search Feature

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the get-it-before-you-want-it dept.

Google 101

adeelarshad82 writes "According to a recently released video, Google is currently testing an 'instant search' feature that changes search results as you type. The feature was first spotted over the weekend. At the moment Instant Search seems to be implemented on very few accounts. A Google spokesman could not confirm or deny the accuracy of the video saying that at any given moment Google is running 50 to 200 experiments."

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101 comments

Peeking into privacy (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33379526)

"A Google spokesman could not confirm or deny the accuracy of the video saying that at any given moment Google is running 50 to 200 experiments." Their experiment might also include poking into privacy.

Incremental find (3, Insightful)

lyinhart (1352173) | more than 3 years ago | (#33379534)

So... incremental find for a search engine index? Might be one of the few new "experiments" from Google that turns out to be useful.

Re:Incremental find (0)

odies (1869886) | more than 3 years ago | (#33379554)

But the video sure made it look like a mess. I was thinking they might have some animation for the single results and they would move or something, but according to the video the whole page changes at once, including all the results.

Re:Incremental find (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33379632)

Fucking Christ sopssa, or should we call you SquarePixel or odies? Pick one. Anyways, can you once stop complaining about Google. For fuck's sake, it's being tested. They might change the way it returns things. Are you so fucking dense that you must find a problem in everything Google/Apple/Linux/USA?

Do you get paged on every fucking Google/Apple/Linux/USA story? Does the batphone rings? Do you have nothing better to do than to troll these stories the moment they are posted?

Fucking pathetic parasite.

Re:Incremental find (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33379898)

Leave himm it is his life that is wasted.

Re:Incremental find (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33380076)

What do you think we should discuss here? Should everyone just say "looks interesting" or "awesome", or actually have an actual conversation about the stories? That also includes telling your opinion, what you seem wrong with them or how it could be improved. But I guess you would rather read 250 messages like "this is neat".

Re:Incremental find (0, Redundant)

claytonjr (1142215) | more than 3 years ago | (#33379952)

Um, just doing a reality check here... But this feature has been available to me for the last several months at least. Why is everyone acting like this is new? Last I checked, the car I drive isn't a delorean...

All right... (1)

moonbender (547943) | more than 3 years ago | (#33379552)

The video included in TFA looks nice, though not revolutionary. My first thought was that it would probably be easy enough to implement a client-side version of it -- basically refresh the search page every so often while the user is manipulating the query. Of course you'd have to do it in an AJAXy fashion so as not to interrupt the typing in the input field, which might be difficult. That requirement could be dropped if the user enters the query within the browser UI -- come to think of it, it's fairly rare that I use the input field in the Google HTML to enter queries, and I never hit the Google front page.

Depends on how it works (1)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 3 years ago | (#33379562)

Watch the video, it looks really interesting. I think it would be really useful during those times when you're not getting the results you anticipated.

I think it'll be more popular than Wave (okay, that was a low blow).

Why? (3, Insightful)

Stratoukos (1446161) | more than 3 years ago | (#33379564)

I see absolutely no point in this. While it looks cool, why would I want to see results for "chee", "cheese" or "cheese and b" when I'm searching for "cheese and biscuits"?

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33379656)

having cheese with biscuits is wrong anyway

Re:Why? (1)

ascari (1400977) | more than 3 years ago | (#33379658)

Because you might stumble on "cheese and beer" and discover a new favorite snack? Live a little, thanks to Google!

Re:Why? (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 3 years ago | (#33379690)

Cheese and beer??? Seriously, BEER?? Obviously, you're not a Mac person.

Re:Why? (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 3 years ago | (#33381880)

Beer. Yes, beer. I'm not even a beer lover, but a nice cold brew now and then is good. Screw the Mac people. Sure, I love a good Scotch whiskey - and I tolerate some wines alright. But beer. Hot summer day, you're so hot you just want to hide under a rock because that's the only shade in sight. You're MELTING - and puddling up in the bottom of your boots. Water sounds good - but someone offers you an ICE COLD BEER!! To hell with the water - grab the beer, and chug half of it down, then roll that cold aluminum can (or cold glass bottle, if you're lucky) around your forehead and neck. Ahhhhh - the nectar of the gods!! Slowly drink down the other half of the beer, and get back to what you were doing.

As I say, I'm not even a beer guy, but beer is good. In fact, it's better than good.

Now, if you REALLY want to quench a thirst, go for a gin and tonic. Sometimes I'll drink the tonic water by itself. The quinine works wonders for a hot body. But, it doesn't have that satisfying flavor of an ice cold beer.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33383034)

Thanks for triggering, you insensitive clod.

Re:Why? (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 3 years ago | (#33381980)

What Mac people don't like beer now? What sort of bizarre cult is Jobs running over there?

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33382554)

Mac people prefer whine.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33392068)

Everybody knows Mac people only drink caffe latte's...

Re:Why? (1)

Laxori666 (748529) | more than 3 years ago | (#33383262)

Cheese and beer cause GP already started typing "cheese and b". Cheese and bwine would be a bit strange.

Re:Why? (1)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | more than 3 years ago | (#33386484)

While I love a good mac and cheese, cheese and beer would be awesome. How about mac, cheese AND beer?

Re:Why? (4, Insightful)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 3 years ago | (#33379668)

Searching for Dickens could also provide some... undesirable side effects. Especially considering Google's habit of putting pictures in normal search results.

Instant Typo Heaven (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33379918)

Searching for "vague" could also provide some... interesting results, especially considering how close "u" and "i" are. For those of you who are having this read out to you, I was referring to the letters "u" and "i" on a standard QWERTY keyboard.

I wonder if searching for information on God would result in finding giddy girls as a result of a typo.

Clearly, they should name this feature ITH - "Instant Typo Heaven".

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33380468)

I can think also on something: assessment, assistant, butter (and derivatives), maybe even pustulate or Cunningham can get you into trouble.

Re:Why? (2, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 3 years ago | (#33381882)

Just try explaining to the cyber police that you were just starting to type in a search for "child portraiture studios" when all of those naughty pictures showed up on your computer.

Re:Why? (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#33385766)

You definitely don't want to search for 'trans'missions then. but this brings up a good point: Will everyone have to keep the "nanny filter" on at work to keep from getting flagged when looking for something innocent? I'll just stick with my Yahoo Search, which tries to guess what I'm looking for but does NOT bring up search results until I hit enter. I still remember the old days when search engines would try to "help" you and the guesses they made were just awful, no thanks.

Re:Why? (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 3 years ago | (#33389548)

Searching for Dickens could also provide some... undesirable side effects. Especially considering Google's habit of putting pictures in normal search results.

Google doesn't auto-complete anything pornographic. They wont stop you from searching or alter the results but you wont be seeing a phallus, when searching for Dick Smith's Electronics.

Re:Why? (3, Informative)

Rhaban (987410) | more than 3 years ago | (#33379674)

The instant search is not directly based on what you type, it is based on the suggestions google gives you.
As you type "chee", you will see the results for "cheesecake", and for "cheese and b" you will have the results for "cheese and burger society".

Re:Why? (1, Interesting)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 3 years ago | (#33379680)

I see absolutely no point in this. While it looks cool, why would I want to see results for "chee", "cheese" or "cheese and b" when I'm searching for "cheese and biscuits"?

From the point of view of a website looking for hits, there's more opportunity to come up in a search result. Joe's Cheese Emporium might not come up when you search for "cheese and biscuits", but it could come up as you typed out your search and had just "cheese" in there. This is a good thing if you're running a website.

From the point of view of a user searching for information, you never know exactly what search terms are going to be relevant. Maybe I'm being too specific in my search terms and not getting any results, but if I omit some term I get exactly what I'm looking for. Right now I have to do several searches to find that out. If it's searching as I type I can just delete terms and see what comes up. Hell, I might not even need to finish typing out my search term. Maybe just typing out "cheese and b" is enough to get results for sites about "cheese and biscuits".

Re:Why? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33379722)

yeah ... what about the word "Analysis"

Re:Why? (1)

Buggz (1187173) | more than 3 years ago | (#33379754)

I see absolutely no point in this. While it looks cool, why would I want to see results for "chee", "cheese" or "cheese and b" when I'm searching for "cheese and biscuits"?

I quite often find myself trying several slightly different search terms when I'm looking for something very specific. The video in TFA is just a proof-of-concept, a more practical use would be switching out/adding/removing a search term or two to get different results. All this without hitting the enter key every time (and maybe accidentally deleting the whole query because the textbox.text gets selected). It's a convenience thing.

Re:Why? (1)

diegocg (1680514) | more than 3 years ago | (#33379804)

why would I want to see results for "chee", "cheese" or "cheese and b"

So don't look at the results while you type. That doesn't make the feature less worthwhile

Re:Why? (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 3 years ago | (#33380430)

There could be a delay on it so that it only runs the search after you stop typing for a certain period of time. So if you're searching for "cheese and biscuits", it won't return results for "c", "ch", "che", etc. But if you pause after "cheese", you'll get some search results. After you add " and biscuits", the results will update for the new query. Depending on how Google implements this, it could be very cool.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33389214)

Why do morons like you keep thinking that just because you don't need something, no one else should need it also?

Why are you still alive? Please go shoot yourself idiot. The world doesn't need you or your opinion.

It has a name (5, Insightful)

robi5 (1261542) | more than 3 years ago | (#33379566)

It's called incremental search and was introduced in the emacs text editor decades ago.

A better invention would be to return relevant search results.

Re:It has a name (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33379660)

Just because it might not be the first time that anybody has done it, doesn't mean that it wouldn't be useful or that they shouldn't do it. Personally I think it looks like it absolutely could be useful. The only downside would be on Google's side, with them having to perform many more searches (with the additional server load that brings).

(I'd also guess that Google has enough staff to actually work on several things at the same time, so you probably don't need to worry about search accuracy work suddenly dropping dead just because they are testing something else out)

Re:It has a name (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 3 years ago | (#33382746)

I'm guessing this works, or will end up working, by looking at a subset of common searches and matching what you typed against them (i.e. trying to predict what you want rather than doing a full search on each keypress), meaning they can probably benefit a lot from caching. Definitely looks useful (so long as it's entirely optional, there will be days when having the results changing as I type will really give me a headache).

Re:It has a name (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33379684)

Yes, we all know emacs did it first.

Relevant: http://xkcd.com/378/

Re:It has a name (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33379726)

Yes, because incremental search on a text editor and on a search engine are the exact same thing.

Re:It has a name (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33384110)

Wait. Emacs is a text editor?

Fix Image Search first!! (3, Interesting)

cfryback (870729) | more than 3 years ago | (#33379580)

Can someone tell them to turn off the BING image view. Sorry, we're in the third world of Australia, and searching images is no, just epic FAIL.

Re:Fix Image Search first!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33379618)

Isn't the new image search rather like the Searchmash image search?

Re:Fix Image Search first!! (4, Insightful)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 3 years ago | (#33380200)

New image search is a nice improvement. BUT the new links you get aren't as nice. Somehow they seem slower loading for me.

Why not actually load the page they are on and attach a little bit of code to stick the image over-top. if you click the x hide everything instantly. Why reload the whole god damn page?

Re:Fix Image Search first!! (1)

mgblst (80109) | more than 3 years ago | (#33388454)

I agree with this, it is not as nice. Maybe a setting to use the old one, since I don't want to disable all javascript.

A useful feature (3, Insightful)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | more than 3 years ago | (#33379582)

That would be a valuable addition.
Currently, many people rely on the word-completion from the search bar. For instance, one prefers to chose what comes from the propositions, since the results will be more numerous.
With this new feature one can adapt in real time the search pattern to converge towards the desired results.

Re:A useful feature (2, Insightful)

Idbar (1034346) | more than 3 years ago | (#33380380)

I don't know about this and how would it work for them. As you just said many people rely on auto-completion (including me). Automatically returning results could probably mean that eventually the suggested auto-completion would be all incomplete because people never required to search for the whole thing, thus, suggestions may not only not be accurate but completely unintelligible.

I personally saw this (5, Interesting)

LeiraHoward (529716) | more than 3 years ago | (#33379636)

My google page did this sometime this past week. I wasn't logged in, it just randomly started doing it as part of the test... Personally, I hate it.

You know how when you normally type in things, Google "suggests" what you might be looking for? And how, sometimes, those searches are, shall we say, "interesting" to say the least, or "NSFW" or just plain old weird? (For instance, try typing in "How do I" or "how do you" and see the odd results that occur... the ones I currently see are "get pregnant" and "start selling weed").

Now, imagine having the results of those show up as you're trying to search for something else entirely.

Frustrating, to say the least, and embarrassing or potentially job-threatening on some of those more risque searches.

Re:I personally saw this (1, Offtopic)

Pikoro (844299) | more than 3 years ago | (#33379816)

Try typing in this without the quotes: "can i get ai" and look at the suggested completions. Talk about NSFW. That crap might get you fired

Re:I personally saw this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33381186)

Moreover, what do these requests look like to a corporate packet sniffer?

Re:I personally saw this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33382424)

Can I get AIDS from swimming with black people? Can I get pregnant on my period?

/facepalm

Re:I personally saw this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33382662)

If you can't explain this away in a matter of seconds to an employer then are way better off getting fired by them

Re:I personally saw this (1)

swell (195815) | more than 3 years ago | (#33389744)

Nonsense

If your job is so precarious, you might as well start looking for another employer. The best spy software isn't going to record what pops up in that window

I've been using this for a while now. I tried and saw the items you suggest 'get pregnant' etc among many other possibilities. These results come and go as you type and change almost instantly. It would take a sharp eye to notice 'how do i start selling weed' in that flurry. I fail to see how the process impairs your activities.

It's easy to ignore if you don't like it. So easy I'm not sure when it first appeared. Early on, the feature put me slightly off balance but over time I found it helpful. It showed me options that I hadn't intended but which lead me to relevant topics. I would not want to give it up now.

In other news.. (1)

cpscotti (1032676) | more than 3 years ago | (#33379664)

"...at any given moment Google is running 50 to 200 experiments."
There is some guy saying developers should not have access to production servers..
It seems Google doesn't give a damn to that!!

As for orkut, I've seen bugs being fixed directly by the developer on the production server also. (Upon personal contact :) )

Re:In other news.. (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#33379806)

Yeah. My wife and I are in different countries right now and we have been making use of google latitude and calendars to keep us coordinated with the stuff we both need to get done. Google tools are useful but buggy. They give the impression that development stopped when they became useful and that nobody sees the need for improvement.

In depth search (4, Interesting)

belthize (990217) | more than 3 years ago | (#33379666)

I wish they'd do the opposite. Admittedly getting results for many searches in 1.342 seconds is cool but occasionally I'd prefer much more specific results even if it takes minutes or longer. If they had a service that charged a few $/month that allowed for complex regex and context based searches I'd probably pay it without a seconds thought.

Re:In depth search (3, Interesting)

Hercynium (237328) | more than 3 years ago | (#33381902)

I suggest you try https://duckduckgo.com/ [duckduckgo.com] for searches like that - regexes, content categories, site-specific, all sorts of "goodies".

It hasn't replaced Google's other search modes for me, but feels like the first real good competitor for the standard web-search.

And BTW, They cater well to the privacy-concerned - they don't keep any info on you, use a redirect to remove your search terms when you click on a result, and will gladly operate over SSL for anything

Could be very dangerous at work (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 3 years ago | (#33379670)

Imagine the intermediary search results if I search for "ASSault" or "ASSigning a variable in Python" or "CUMmington" or "CUMmerbun" [wikipedia.org] (yes, that's the correct spelling) or any other phrase that could be misconstrued by a company's internet filter as inappropriate.

I can see it now - I search for ASSertionError and get a screen full of butt at work.

Re:Could be very dangerous at work (2, Funny)

imakemusic (1164993) | more than 3 years ago | (#33379844)

yes, that's the correct spelling

Doesn't it have a D on the end? Or is this some kind of salted pastry?

Curse this! (0)

halfaperson (1885704) | more than 3 years ago | (#33379678)

I've been looking for a new sextant for weeks now but have found myself too caught up in distractions. Now I now why.

Waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33379758)

Waste for people with smallish capped accounts, like on mobiles with data plans.

caveat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33379778)

Searching for sextant will now become NSFW...

Maybe? (1)

darien.train (1752510) | more than 3 years ago | (#33380010)

My vote would be to tone it down a bit and just flash up the first three results of the predictive search below the bar just to give you the flavor instead of the whole result. I think there are ways to do this already with browser extensions but I'm cool with my search as-is at the moment so haven't investigated.

One could just make a little script that automatically presses enter every time you type a key in a google search bar and you'd have essentially the same thing. That actually sounds a little annoying but we'll have to see where they're going with it.

I feel sorry... (3, Funny)

ColdGrits (204506) | more than 3 years ago | (#33380062)

...for anyone doing a search on the term analyst.
Or searching for information about shitake mushrooms.
Or looking for the latest football results for Arsenal.
Or cocktail recipes.

Ad Impressions (2, Insightful)

dmomo (256005) | more than 3 years ago | (#33380190)

Does each ad that pops up during this phase count as an "impression"? This would really screw with the Advertisers.

Re:Ad Impressions (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33381246)

You don't pay CPM on Google, it's Cost Per Click. Wouldn't make the slightest difference except to slightly shift the Click Through Rate.

Re:Ad Impressions (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33385350)

I thought advertisers paid for clicks, not impressions?

seizure time (2, Interesting)

giantism_strikes (1887188) | more than 3 years ago | (#33380546)

I personally can't wait to see Google seizure between every word I type in. Great idea guys... How annoying would it be if someone tried to answer a question that you were asking after every word you said?

Re:seizure time (1)

The_mad_linguist (1019680) | more than 3 years ago | (#33382024)

How annoying would it be if someone tried to answer a quest

Not that annoying. I have like fifty dire rats in my cellar, and I'm willing to give thirty gp to anyone who's willing to clear them out.

Time to turn off javascript for google.com... (1)

inviolet (797804) | more than 3 years ago | (#33380564)

It has already been pointed out, by Schneier I think, that this misfeature allows anybody doing simple traffic analysis to discover exactly what you typed. That is because the reply traffic from typing 'a' is a slightly different size than the reply traffic from typing 'b', and so forth.

Re:Time to turn off javascript for google.com... (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 3 years ago | (#33382448)

It has already been pointed out, by Schneier I think, that this misfeature allows anybody doing simple traffic analysis to discover exactly what you typed. That is because the reply traffic from typing 'a' is a slightly different size than the reply traffic from typing 'b', and so forth.

The problem with that concept is that, given the way Google works, the reply traffic from typing 'a' at one point in time will be different in size from the reply traffic from typing 'a' at a different point in time (and, will also be different from the reply traffic from typing 'a' using a different Google account at the same time, and possibly a different size than typing 'a' at the same time, from the same Google Account, from a different computer), which makes determining search keystrokes by traffic analysis impractical under any reasonable set of circumstances. You might be able to determine with some minimal degree of confidence the keystroke sequences being used on an HTTPS search by traffic analysis if you could capture enough nearly-simultaneous cleartext HTTP searches and their responses and compare them, but even then it only works if, starting from first character in the search, to the extent you have the same sequence from the first character in one of the HTTP searches as is used in the HTTPS search.

OTOH, the more common the HTTPS search is among web searches, the less useful information is gleaned from knowing you made it.

So, I'd say, the proposed attack is unlikely to ever work, and is even more unlikely to work anytime when it would matter.

There's a lot more risk that an attacker could just MITM your HTTPS search than that they could discover it by traffic analysis.

Just like google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33381364)

Changes Dungeons and Dragons Alignment as I type.

First its "Not Evil" then its "Lawful Stupid" then its "Chaotic Verizon Buttmonkey"

And Google becomes slower and slower to use... (1)

Richard Steiner (1585) | more than 3 years ago | (#33381940)

Nice features like this come at a cost. Google is a nice web site when using my web tablet, but I guess I'll have to turn Javascript off when using it in the future.

Feature-itis strikes a once-elegant interface. :-(

I've been using this a spell-checker (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 3 years ago | (#33382756)

If I know the first few letters of the word, the search engine will suggest accurate spellings as I type. If I really mangle the spelling, I type the whole thing in, then click search and hope google offers an alternative correct spelling.

Old news (1)

sc7007 (26649) | more than 3 years ago | (#33382862)

How is this news. This has been happening to me when I use Google for several months.

Like any "feature", sometime it is very useful, sometimes not.

Big deal....

This showed up on my account over the weekend (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33383802)

I think it's gone now. I guess I'm one of the lucky 50-200. Maybe Google likes me.

Looks fake (1)

GWBasic (900357) | more than 3 years ago | (#33385296)

That video looks faked, or at least sped up. With all the network latency involved, there should be a slightly noticeable delay while new content loads, especially regarding the images.

Yet another reason... (1)

jandersen (462034) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390094)

... to not use Google.

There is little in the world of SW that I find more disgusting than these "screw you around while you type" features, like, search as you type, autocorrect in wordprocessors, and now "Instant Search". I really hate it when producers of code think they can outsmart the user; programs are tools, tools are not supposed to take the initiative - the user should be in control. Just imagine your circular saw taking the initiative to remove that finger of yours, that is so obviously in the way.

You can always tell when people have been using the autocorrection feature, cause the text is full of correctly spelled, wrong words. The right way to use a spellchecker is to first write the text, then run it through the spellchecker, so you think about what is going on. And the correct way to search for things is to write your search expression, then perform the search.

Right, that's the rant for today, now get back to your work and stop slacking off.

it just seems obvious (1)

teh_tecchie (1889660) | more than 3 years ago | (#33413338)

I think it looks quite cool actually, they've tried a number of things messing about with their search engine but ever since autocomplete functionality launched in the Firefox search bar I've wondered where this kind of feature it's been all my web surfing life and when Google are going to roll it into their main search results. Can't wait for it to graduate from Labs!
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