Don’t be too instant. Google might not like it.

This afternoon I read a post over on How-To Geek about enabling Google Instant Search in Google Chrome. This appealed to me as I am in a long formed habit of conducting my initial searches from the address bar of the browser.

In most cases my method would be:

  1. press “Ctrl+T” on the keyboard to create a new tab;
  2. start typing search term – the cursor is already focussed in the address bar on creating a new tab; and
  3. hit enter and view the result.

The launch of Google Instant Search has, for the first time in years, challenged my tried and tested behaviour for searching. Yet, whilst the idea is that it speeds up your searching, I haven’t necessarily found this to be true. If I wanted to utilise the new search feature I’d need to:

  1. launch new tab;
  2. go to;
  3. type my search term; and
  4. view the result.

There’s an extra step in there now, making it somewhat less ‘instant’. 1

Enter How-To Geek’s little tip for enabling Instant search directly from the Chrome address bar. One small switch added and huzzah, we’ve got Instant Search in a new tab straight away. It’s a little glitchy at the moment as it’s early days for it, but then there’s a few things with Instant Search that I think need addressing.

However, thanks to Instant Search and a couple of typos I came across something I’d never seen happen on before. I was looking for something relating to, and my fingers were being a little stubborn in typing the correct term, so there was ample use of backspace and further typing. All of a sudden Google presented me with the following page:

Apparently I was so instant that I was deemed to be a computer sending automated requests! I don’t really think I was typing that quickly either.

Of course it could be something funny relating to running a test version of Chrome, but I’m not sure how I’d find that out.

  1. Ok, I know if I had setup to be my home page I wouldn’t have the extra step


  • Edna

    I really dislike the new "instant" search. It's like my cellphone trying to complete words. I hate it. Before this new feature was rolled out, I would get search terms completed, so what's new about this?

    I equate this with Buzz, another attempt from Google to "be with it".

    I viewed a video of the team and was dismayed to find there wasn't a woman present.

    • Hi Edna,

      I guess we're on two different sides of a coin (based on the fact that I'm all for predictive text on my phone and I like the new feature). However that said, I do think the new Instant Search needs a bit of tweaking before it's fully user friendly. I see the fundamental advantage of it being that I no longer need to type a full search term to find the result for which I'm searching.

      If you really don't like Instant Search don't forget that you can just disable it.

      On the Buzz front, I can definitely understand that point of view, Google have a habit of testing the waters of a huge variety of different service types. In my mind, there's a lot to like about Buzz – threaded conversations, easy tracking and updating via email clients, easy feed integration, tight integration with Google Reader. However that said, their implementation and launch of the service could definitely have been handled better through a more standard beta launch, instead of just pushing it into everyone's Gmail account. The got a lot of negative PR as a result of that and I think it could have easily been avoided. I'm an old Jaiku user (which sadly slowly became a bit of a ghost town after Google bought it and stopped development), and as a result the layout and functionality of Buzz makes a lot more sense to me than something like Twitter.

      I had a quick look around and could find any info on Google's workforce gender breakdown. There's a lot of discussion about gender balance in the tech sector workforce but I'm definitely on the periphery of that, being self-employed and have never been fortunate enough to need to expand our workforce (there's myself and my business partner). I've read some interesting articles over the last few years about this issue, two different articles in TechCrunch stuck in my head: one by Eileen Burbidge telling women to just do it and for everyone else to stop patronizing; and another by Michael Arrington, which I could see could raise the hackles of many people but seemed, to me, to be quite a genuine and open article.

      Regarding Google's lack of female representation on their Google Instant team, I would have thought that it's unlikely to be as a result of hiring policies but surely must go further back to the education system. If there is a lack of female graduates in tech subjects than there's going to be a shortage of women going for engineering positions at companies like Google. There was an interesting article in the Guardian newspaper recently which stated:

      Five years ago, women made up 24% of computer science students in higher education. Now they make up just 19%. In 10 years, there has been no improvement in the uptake of women in mathematical sciences – the proportion remains stable at 38% – or engineering and technology, where women still make up just 15% of student numbers.

      Of course, perhaps women aren't going for computer science and related courses due to a perception that there's no place for them in that sector when later searching for employment. Chicken and egg situation perhaps?

      The photo of the Google Instant engineering team didn't have 38%, 19%, or 15% women. Yes, it had 0%. Does this mean that the product is less likely to be balanced or catering to the neural make-up of the female brain (something which likely has more societal roots to blame)? I honestly don't know. Logically it would make a lot of sense to have gender balance in a product team, but that being said, I'm not sure what I think about positive discrimination. If we take an assumption that any large tech company puts together its teams on the basis of previous performance and skill sets, and the team gathered from that process is entirely male, should positive discrimination be employed to balance the gender (or of course, race) balance?

      I've gone on a bit of a meander there, clearly trying to avoid getting stuck back into work 😉

      Definitely makes me appreciate being half of a partnership and not having to worry about such things!

      Thanks for commenting!


  • I can't get it to work at all. Just did a quick search and there's a few suggestions of clearing all my cookies. I don't want to do that for something I'll probably not use. Likewise, the only time I ever go to the google homepage is when someone mentions one of their new logos.

    • Hmm, strangely it doesn't work in my Firefox profile, but if I load a blank profile it does. You could try private browsing mode in FF or Chrome and see what happens.

      I've found it handy for a few searches but there's some UI/UX issues – mainly when you complete a search term an go to click on a result – the suggestions disappear and that shifts the results up and you have to move the cursor and click again.

  • Actually, that UX issue is only present with the switch enabled. They just need to tweak that functionality – that jumping behaviour doesn't happen in normal instant searches.