You know when you start typing a query in Google and it instantly offers suggestions and loads the results page in real time? That feature is going away soon, the company has confirmed Google’s Instant Search feature was launched back in 2010. Google said back then that the feature enabled it to save millions of seconds every hour by surfacing relevant results as soon as the user started typing. However, it doesn’t make much sense for the company to keep this feature around now.
The Instant Search feature did prove to be useful as long as you were typing in a query on a PC. It didn’t make much sense on mobile devices since users are relying on their fingers and virtual buttons for input. Moreover, displaying search suggestions over a virtual keyboard that takes up half of the screen doesn’t really look that good.
So why is Google ditching Instant Search now? Well, back in 2010, the bulk of Google’s search traffic was generated via desktops. There has been a fundamental shift in that over the past few years. More than half of Google’s entire search traffic now comes from mobile devices. So it makes sense that Google is now favoring a better user experience for mobile users over Instant Search.
In a statement provided to Search Engine Land, a spokesperson for Google said:
“We launched Google Instant back in 2010 with the goal to provide users with the information they need as quickly as possible, even as they typed their searches on desktop devices. 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.”
Search results powered by auto-complete aren’t going away, though. They will be displayed in the standard drop-down menu but Google Search will no longer render the results page in real time.