In 2010, Google’s then-VP of Search Products Marissa Mayer called Instant Search a “fundamental shift in search,” and the media marveled at this new time-saving feat of engineering. Now that shit is dead, because technology has fundamentally shifted once again.
Google Instant was the search giant’s response to the fact that a lot of users are slow typers. On a desktop, Google’s search engine would not only throw out little text suggestions in an unassuming box below the search field, it would also constantly refresh the page with results while you typed. According to Wired, Mayer claimed at the function’s launch that “If everyone on the planet used Google Instant for their searches... it would save about 3.5 billion seconds a day, or 11 hours saved every second.”
But the world has changed. In 2015, Google first saw mobile overtake desktop searches and that trend is only growing. Instant Search just isn’t appropriate for mobile browsing. Faced with running two different search engines, Google’s decided they don’t have time for that. In a statement to SearchEngineLand, a spokesperson explained:
We launched Google Instant back in 2010 with the goal to provide users with the information they need as quickly as possible... Since then, many more of our searches happen on mobile, with very different input and interaction and screen constraints. With this in mind, we have decided to remove Google Instant, so we can focus on ways to make Search even faster and more fluid on all devices.
Honestly, if you weren’t reading this news, you might not even notice that Instant Search was gone. The little text suggestions still pop up, but there might be this feeling that something is just kind of... off. Something you can’t put your finger on.
The fact is, this is nothing to mourn. Instant Search was fucking annoying. I understand slow typers might find it useful, but I don’t need my whole screen constantly shifting and blinking while I try to type out “The Lemon Grove Kids Meet the Green Grasshopper and the Vampire Lady from Outer Space.” (Yes, I know you could turn the feature off.)
At its launch, Mayer said that “there is a psychic element because we can predict what you are about to search on in real time.” Yes, it had a psychic element, in the way that someone who constantly interrupts you thinking they know what you’re going to say next has a psychic element.