By now, you’ve probably heard about the release of Google’s latest brainchild: Google Instant. When I heard about this “new search enhancement” (as Google calls it) I was confused. Wasn’t Google already instant? Isn’t that what suggestions were? Turns out I was wrong.
Google Instant allows users to actually see website results while typing, meaning you no long need to press enter to see your results.
According to the company’s website on the “enhancement,” Google Instant can save “2-5 seconds per search,” which, apparently, was necessary because the average user took an entire nine seconds to enter a search term, and the company saw “many examples of searches that took 30-90 seconds to type.” (I’m not sure how anyone with even a basic knowledge of keyboarding skills can take 30-90 seconds to type a search term into Google, but I’ll ignore that for now.)
Within a few hours of the release, the Internet was buzzing about this new invention, and I even saw a few friends’ status updates mention it on Facebook. (Feel free to judge the type of people I am friends with accordingly based off of this observation.) To be fair, some of the articles and observations I saw about the new technology seemed to be legitimate, including concerns from corporations and advertisers about how this would affect their standing in search results. However, most of the observations I saw followed the “Oh WOW! Google is AMAZING and look at this REALLY AWESOME new search tool,” line of logic.
Personally, I was underwhelmed. Two to five seconds? Really? That’s what we’re so excited about? Do you know what I can accomplish in two to five seconds? I can take a sip of coffee, provided the coffee isn’t too hot. Or cold. Of course, if I’m typing and reading the results that Google Instant is giving me, I can’t take that sip anyway.
I decided to do some calculations and determine how much time Google Instant could actually save me throughout the course of my day. If I did one Google search per hour every hour of the day, I would save between 48-120 seconds. Over the course of one week, provided I’m sticking with my average of one search per hour, I get to save an entire 336-840 seconds, a range of 5.6-14 minutes. Okay, 14 minutes sounds impressive and worthwhile, but it’s not often that I average a search for every hour of the week for seven days.
Of course, Google doesn’t see it that way. Instead, Google views this new “enhancement” as a major time saver. In fact, on the company’s website for Instant, they actually make the argument that if used globally (ignoring the fact that is it not yet available globally, or even on all Internet browsers in the six countries where it is available), “this will save more than 3.5 billion seconds a day. That’s 11 hours saved every second,” which would be great, if I got back all 11 of those hours. But I don’t. Instead, I get back two to five seconds.
Perhaps the only interesting thing that came out of the Google Instant buzz was the story of Stanford computer science student Feross Aboukhadijeh. Aboukhadijeh adopted Google Instant technology and created a YouTube Instant app. The result? YouTube CEO and co-founder Chad Hurley heard about the app and offered Aboukhadijeh a job through Twitter.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Google. I think Chrome is a great browser, I love my Gmail, and I’m jealous of everyone who has an Android phone because I think the mobile platform is amazing. And, like a lot of people, I get excited every time there’s talk about the company’s “next big thing.” I just hope that next time Google generates buzz, it has more to offer me than an extra 2-5 seconds.
Rachel Vesco is a senior majoring in journalism, political science and Facebook stalking. For future column ideas, send her an email to [email protected] (or find her on Facebook).