Google Instant goes live on mobile phones

Google mobile search now quickly guesses the search terms you're trying to type, along with search results for those guesses

Google Instant--that thing Google search does where it guesses what search terms you're in the process of typing in and displays search results accordingly--has now come to mobile phones--well, devices running Android 2.2 or Apple iOS 4.0, anyway.

Example (courtesy of Google): "If you type [anse], you should see [ansel adams] along with other predictions. Results for the first prediction appear automatically, and tapping on the other predictions will display those results. Pressing the enter key or the search button skips the predictions and will display results for exactly what you've typed." Check out the demo video.

When Google rolled out the "Instant" service for the desktop in September (and said it was soon coming to mobile) I was skeptical about how well it would work on wireless networks. That's because for every new letter you type in the search bar, the Google client has to hit up Google's search servers back home to generate new "guesses" and results. I wondered how reliable Instant could possibly be on mobile networks, which have limited capacity, and deliver things instantly only when network conditions are just right.

Well, after a few minutes of using the service on Sprint's 3G network, I'm surprised at how well it works. The instant search results and keyword guesses don't come in as fast as they do on the desktop, but it's still pretty fast. I will withhold judgement until I use the service in cellular dead zones, like my apartment.

Google seems to be aware of the limited factor of network speed: "Instant for mobile works best on 3G and Wi-Fi networks, but since the quality of any wireless connection can fluctuate, we've made it easy to enable or disable Google Instant without ever leaving the page," says a Google release. There's a "turn on" or "turn off" toggle at the bottom of the search page.

The benefit of this on mobile devices is that it takes some of the pain out of doing web searches on mobile devices, on which most of us want to type as little as possible. By constantly asking the user "Is this what you want? Is this what you want? Is this what you want?", and eventually arriving at the right answer, key strokes--and frustration--are saved.

If you have an Android 2.2 phone, go to google.com in your phone's browser and tap the Google Instant "Turn on" link beneath the search box (if you don't see the "Turn on" link, try waiting a moment and then refresh the page).

Google says Instant for Mobile is relies on a new AJAX and HTML5 implementation for mobile that dynamically updates the page with new results and eliminates the need to load a new page for each query. Right now the Instant service is available only for Android 2.2 ("Froyo") devices, and iPhones and iPods running iOS 4. More mobile platforms will be supported in the near future, Google says.

Join the newsletter!

Or
Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags internetGooglesearch enginessearch

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Mark Sullivan

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Essentials

Mobile

Victorinox Werks Professional Executive 17 Laptop Case

Learn more >

Exec

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?