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Google is testing a new tool on its search monopoly that previews entire pages before you actually visit them.

As revealed by the Google Operating System blog — an independent site not affiliated with Google — the web giant is experimenting with a kind of preview window that pops up when you click on an icon next to a search result. The blog provides screenshots:

Google preview test

The new icon is the small magnifying glass to the right of each result.

As the blog points out, the tool is reminiscent of Ask.com's Binoculars tool. But it goes so far as to highlight — and, yes, magnify — relevant text within the preview window. Clearly, such a tool is a convenience many users would welcome. But site owners may see things differently. One obvious byproduct of the tool is that you end spending more time on Google and less time actually visiting other pages.

As Google likes to point out, it is constantly testing new search tools on small numbers of live users, and these may or may not reach the official service. Google Instant — the latest version of the company's search engine that streams results to your browser as you type — was spied by at least one user weeks before it went live across the US. ®

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