Google's 'psychic' search tool: 'Revolutionary' or a 'disaster'?
The tech giant debuts Google Instant — a search function that updates queries as you type. It's impressive... but does anyone want it?
Google's iconic, industry-leading search tool has undergone a radical transformation: All queries on the site are now predictive — that is, automatically updated and refreshed with additional keystrokes from the user. The moment Google Instant went live on Wednesday, the blogosphere began buzzing about the ramifications: Will it kill other search engines? Will it make Google money? Is it really "psychic"? Here are some first impressions:
It's mildly impressive, if buggy: Google Instant is "intuitive to use," says Stephen Shankland in CNet, but "I ran into some things I found unpleasant," including long waits for searches and unexplained shutdowns. Overall, it's "an improvement, though not a revolution, in search."
Expect a profits bonanza: Google Instant seems like an attempt to nudge "users toward the most common and expensive search terms," says Scott Morrison in The Wall Street Journal. By narrowing results down in real time, Google could "counter a trend toward complex queries with multiple search terms" — queries that steer users toward cheaper ads, reducing revenue for the company.
Older users will hate it: "I think this will be a complete usability disaster" for Google, software marketing expert Tom Demers tells USA Today. With kids relying more on search bars, it's an older demographic who actually goes to the Google homepage — and they won't appreciate the "interruptive complication" of different search results flashing every time they type a letter.
This changes SEO forever: Up until now, search engine optimization meant gaming a certain set of search terms, says Erick Schonfeld in TechCrunch. But with Google Instant, "sites will need to optimize for particular letter combinations, not just entire keywords" — and that "changes the game" for everyone.
Let the bloodbath begin: Google Instant is "really cool," says Peter Kafka in All Things D. But "it’s totally, definitely, going to kill someone!" Who, you ask? Maybe it will be Microsoft's Bing, or perhaps Twitter, "which is supposed to be 'real time', too." Regardless, it is "a good thing for Google," if not for anyone else.
Too much novelty, Google: This puzzling feature "allows users to do, I dunno, something?" says blogger Balk in The Awl. "It's faster? Or it predicts what you're going to type?... I have no idea! Google lost me around Wave (remember that?) and ever since then I've just been in a fog of confusion and indifference."