Google puts the power of Instant right in your pocket

5 Nov 2010

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In a move aimed at pushing the limits of mobile browsers and wireless networks, Google has released a beta version for most iPhone and Android devices in the US. More countries will follow in the coming months.

Google Instant makes search faster by displaying not just predictions but actual search results as you type.

Google software engineer Steve Kanefsky explained in the official Google blog how this saves valuable time on a desktop browser.

“But wouldn’t it be great to have Google Instant on mobile devices, where each keystroke and page load is much slower and you frequently have just a moment to find the information you need?”

In September, Google announced it was working to bring Google Instant to mobile, and today a beta version is available to most iPhone and Android devices in the US. To try it out, 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).

“Like the desktop version of Google Instant, when you type on your mobile device you’ll see predictions of what you might be searching for. If you type (anse), for example, 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

Pushing mobile’s limits

“With Google Instant on mobile, we’re pushing the limits of mobile browsers and wireless networks,” Kanefsky said.

“You will probably notice a big improvement in speed when you search, thanks to 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.

“Google 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. Just tap the ‘Turn on’ or ‘Turn off’ link.

“We hope you’ll enjoy using Google Instant for mobile as much as we enjoyed making it. It’s currently available for Android 2.2 (‘Froyo’) devices and iPhones and iPods running iOS 4 in the US in English.

“We’re working to support additional countries and languages and more devices in the coming months, so stay tuned,” Kanefsky said.

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com