By Harry McCracken | Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 1:57 pm
Google’s new Google Instant user interface, which debuted in the search engine’s PC-based service a couple of months ago, is now up and running in the version of Google you get on iPhones, iPod Touches, and Android devices. (Android 2.2 devices, that is–that Android fragmentation which supposedly doesn’t exist prevents users of earlier versions from getting the new interface–and to be fair, it also requires iOS 4.) It’s in beta, and you turn it on via a link below the search field on Google.com.
The mobile version of Google Instant is largely identical to the desktop one: As you type, Google shows you continuously-updated suggestions (which are helpful but not new–you get them even with Instant turned off) and displays a list of results without you having to press Search. But the fact it’s all happening on a phone screen changes the experience. For one thing, the on-screen keyboard on my iPhone covers most of the results, rendering the whole experience less instant. (This wouldn’t be an issue with an Android phone with a physical keyboard, such as Verizon’s Droid 2.)
In this screen, there are additional Google Instant results beyond the Wikipedia entry on LBJ–you just can’t see them without tapping the “Done” button. (You don’t want to tap “Search”–it does a search for whatever you’ve typed so far.)
(I tried Google on my iPad, where the on-screen keyboard takes up less real estate, but right now, at least, I’m getting a version of Google.com without either the desktop or mobile flavors of Instant.)
Me, I’m going to continue to search Google using my mobile browsers’ built-in search-fields; going to Google.com at all is an extra step which largely negates any speed benefit from Google Instant.
How about that desktop version of Google Instant? After using it for two months, I find myself in the odd position of struggling to form an opinion of it. I don’t feel like it’s helping me search any faster, and I don’t feel like it’s getting in my way. It’s just there, and I tend to ignore it. Have you done a better job than I have at caring about it one way or another?