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Google's 'Instant' search engine goes mobile

Gets busy on Android, Jesus Phone

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Google has brought its "Instant" search engine to mobile devices.

On Thursday, the search giant rolled out a beta version of Google Instant for Android handsets, the Jesus Phone, and the iPod touch. Google Instant is the latest incarnation of the company's primary search engine. It serves up search-results pages as you type, trying to predict what you're looking for.

"Google Instant makes search faster by displaying not just predictions but actual search results as you type," the company said in a blog post. "This saves valuable time on a desktop browser, but wouldn’t it be great to have Google Instant on mobile devices, where each keystroke and page load is much slower and you frequently have just a moment to find the information you need?"

The trouble with Instant is that it's a bit busy, and you have to wonder if Google is narrowing what users ultimately search for, pushing them towards the lowest common search denominator.

On the desktop, where it launched earlier this fall, Google Instant is turned on by default for all users signed into their Google accounts. But on mobiles, users must actively flip it on — at least at the beta stage. If you're in the US and you visit google.com on an Android 2.2 handsets or an iPhone or iPod touch running Apple iOS 4, you'll see a link below the search box that lets you activate the tool.

The mobile incarnation of Google Instant takes advantage of new AJAX and HTML5 setups, with Google claiming a "big speed improvement."

Serving up more search results and more ads, Google Instant appears to be an effort to ultimately juice the company's revenues — but Google denies this is the case. According to an independent study, Google's search revenues increased almost 2 per cent in the two weeks following the introduction of the service. ®

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