Home Google Instant Search Inspires Mashups Across the Web

Google Instant Search Inspires Mashups Across the Web

People are still getting used to Google Instant Search, the format that displays search results as you type. But the idea has captivated developers and inspired a growing number of search engines that let you preview the results without having to press enter.

You can now try Instant Search for Twitter, Bing, Wikipedia, Flickr or iTunes, or just head to the new site Instantise to find links to 16 instant search apps inspired by Google’s innovation last week.

Why do developers love instant search?

Ideal for non-text searches

The format is especially effective for search engines that depend on text queries to find images and videos. Text and natural language queries are still most effective when searching for documents. But if you want to search for a video using words, shifting results as you type provides instant feedback on how to refine the query.

YouTube Instant starts playing videos as you type your query – way more fun than trying to guess which of the similarly-named and sometimes fake videos that pop up is the one you want. Its creator, Feross Aboukhadijeh, announced the launch on Hacker News. It abruptly went viral and two days later, YouTube offered Aboukhadijeh a job. (Which also encouraged some people to build instantization searches as resume-builders or in hopes of getting a job – see here, here and here.)

Stephen Ou had the idea for iTunes Instant because the iTunes search is too slow, too clustered and too complicated to view. Google’s Instant Search and the instantization apps it inspired him convinced him to develop it now.

“I definitely see Google is making a big move through Google Instant,” Ou said. “…They started to lead off a whole industry move toward instant search. And I am sure this trend will continue to grow and grow in the upcoming months.”

Easy to build

The other factor driving Google Instant imitations is the relative simplicity of implementation. Aboukhadijeh bet his roommate he could build YouTube Instant in an hour (it took him closer to six). Ou built iTunes Instant in three hours. Web developer Michael Hart has already beat Google in building an instant search for Google Maps and Google Images.

Instant search is simple but compelling user interface innovation and we’re only seeing the first of its use cases. (It may also make you smarter.) After a week of using it, what do you think of Google Instant? And who will be the next to get mashed?

UPDATE: Instant searches continue to proliferate. Check out Etsy Instant and App Store Instant. “I think that [instant search] is captivating because people just start typing, and interesting stuff just shows up. Even if it’s not relevant, you can just enter another character and you are 1 step close to your destination,” said Michael Hart, developer of instant searches for Etsy, Google Maps and Google Images. “I think it’s great. A lot of these mashups are brilliantly simple, and work quite well. The underlying javascript is very simple to write and understand,” he said.

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