3 Cool Uses for Google Instant

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Earlier this month, Google (Stock Quote: GOOG) effectively revolutionized the way we search for and find information on the Internet with the introduction of Google Instant.

This new tool actually predicts what you’re looking for as you enter in your search, so new results pop up with each letter you type. According to Google, this change makes it possible for users to shave off anywhere between two and five seconds in the time it takes to search.

Yet, even as Google argues that Instant is more efficient than the standard search engine, many have expressed disappointment with the change.

“When I enter my search terms I know what I want to search for. I don’t need Google’s ad-derived suggestions distracting me,” Christopher Helman wrote for Forbes. “This search engine is as annoying as talking to a college kid who is not as smart as he thinks he is, and who keeps finishing your sentences for you. And finishing them wrong.”

Similarly, a Mashable poll found that nearly a third of users dislike the service, with the majority citing “information overload” as their reason.

With that in mind, we decided to round up three things that Google Instant actually does better than the previous version of Google search, as well as two things Google should do with Instant going forward.

Calculator

Most people use the Google search toolbar to look up information (or Google their names), but you can also use this toolbar as a calculator. In the past, all you had to do was type in the equation using the proper arithmetic signs and then press enter. But now with Google Instant, the results will pop up as you type, much like with a regular calculator. So if you are doing a long equation, you can get the results as you go. This is especially useful if you’re trying to do something like currency conversions very quickly.

Addresses

With Google Instant, it’s now less necessary to type out an entire address in the browser. By the time you type in the street name and number, you will likely see a map pop up in the results pointing out where you have to go, and if not then, certainly by the time you type in the town. Zip codes are useless now.

Advertising

The biggest benefactors of the switch to Google Instant will likely be advertisers, and as a result, Google itself, which stands to make a pretty penny. Now, users see a new set of ads as they type more information into the search toolbar, whereas before users only saw ads pop up once they had finished typing in the search. This means that users may see dozens of extra ads in the course of a single search.

This is especially useful from a business perspective. As the International Business Times reported recently, many marketers expect this to lead to more ad revenue, as more advertisements will be displayed to users.

However, from a user perspective, this may prove to be more intrusive rather than useful. In fact, as we reported in a recent article, the fact that ads pop up quickly as you type may actually be detrimental to consumers because it may influence your purchasing decisions without you realizing it.

What Google Should Do Next

Given how useful Google Instant can be for certain searches, the next step Google should consider is applying this tool to their photo and video searches. But perhaps most of all, Google should look into applying this tool for searching through Gmail. This way, you could see your messages pop up as you type in the sender’s name, or the subject line. Hopefully, the company will explore these opportunities in the near future.

When it is all said and done, if you still dislike Google Instant, it is very simple to turn off. Just look to the right of the search button and you’ll see an option saying, “Instant is on.” If you click on the arrow, you can select “off” instead.

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