Instant Search in Google Chrome

Google Chrome will add support for instant search, the feature released this week by Google. An early implementation is already available in Chrome Dev Channel and in Chrome Canary build. You can enable this feature by adding the following command-line flag to a Chrome shortcut: –enable-match-preview (in Windows, right-click on the shortcut, select “Properties” and append the flag to the “Target” value).

Chrome’s flavor of instant search is quite surprising. As you type a query in Chrome’s Omnibox, the browser shows a preview of Google’s results for that query. This is suboptimal because it doesn’t use Google’s predictions, which speed up entering a query. Instead of displaying the results for [weather] when you type “w”, Chrome only shows the results for [w].

When you select one of the suggestions from the address bar, Chrome previews the results for that query. If Chrome finds a web page that matches your query, it loads that page. For example, when I type “m” in the Omnibox, Chrome autocompletes my query as, since I frequently go to Gmail. If I type “n”, Chrome loads Google News. It may be useful for frequently visited pages, but loading a page just because I type a letter in the address bar is a bit too much. This way, you may end up loading a lot of pages while typing a query and that may be distracting and may slow you down.

This feature works even if Google is not the default search engine. Hopefully, it will be considerably improved before the next Chrome release.

{ Thanks, PhistucK. }

Google Features No Longer Available in Instant Search

Google Instant Search is a very interesting experiment that could change the way you find information on the Web, but the new interface comes with a lot of unpleasant side effects.

1. Google Suggest can no longer be disabled. Even if you disable Google Instant, suggestions will still be displayed.

2. You can no longer change the number of results. The interface would be less fluid if Google had to fetch 50 or 100 results every time you change your query.

3. Google Suggest no longer shows previously typed searches from Google Web History. This was a great feature for repeated queries. Marissa Mayer said last year that “40% of searches on any given day are repeat searches for a user”.

4. Google Suggest no longer shows 10 suggestions. Because of space constraints, Google only displays 4 suggestions, followed by your original query.

5. The fade-in animation has been removed. This feature used to hide the navigation bar and all the links from the homepage until you moved your mouse.

6. “Search within results” is no longer available. This feature has never been useful because it didn’t actually search within results. It only allowed you to add new keywords to an existing query.

7. Google’s search box is not displayed at the bottom of the page. As Amit Agarwal points out, you have to scroll to the top of the page to change the query.

8. No more Wonder Wheel. Google’s visualization tool allowed you to explore related searches.

9. Google removed the virtual keyboard. This feature is no longer available at Google Russia and will probably removed from all localized interfaces in the future. “Our virtual keyboard allows you to enter the precise search terms you want, regardless of the language keys on your physical keyboard. It can be helpful for people who use one of the many non-Latin script-based languages that require special characters,” explains Google.

All of these features are still available if you log out or you use Google SSL, the encrypted search interface.

Can you find other missing features?

{ Thanks, Tom. }