Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Google Instant Previews now rolling out

Google is really suddenly working hard on its search engine nowadays. Is that because Bing got so awesome suddenly, with its Wikipedia and Facebook results and stuff? Maybe. First, they released Google Instant, then they put in more stuff, recently started rolling out beta versions of Google Instant for mobile and now, Instant Previews.

<iframe title="YouTube video player" class="youtube-player" type="text/html" width="1280" height="750" src="" frameborder="0"></iframe>

On the Official Google Blog, the company writes:
"In our testing, we’ve found that people who use Instant Previews are about 5% more likely to be satisfied with the results they click. The previews provide new ways to evaluate search results, making you more likely to find what you’re looking for on the pages you visit."
If you didn't see the video above, then in a nutshell, Instant Previews gives you a snippet of the page that appears in the search results. If Instant Previews is available in your region, you will start seeing a little blue magnifying glass icon near every search result. Clicking it will display a little image snippet of the page. At times, it will even display a section of the test on the webpage that is relevant to your search.

Google says, about the usefulness of this feature:
Instant Previews can be helpful for many kinds of tasks. For example, say you looked at a page before and need to find it again—with a preview, you can tell if any of the results look familiar. Or perhaps you’re looking for an official website—look for a logo and formal style and you’ll probably be able to identify it. Or maybe you’re looking for a how-to guide—it’s easy to spot a page with clear illustrations and step-by-step instructions.
Preview of  the Official Google Blog
Oh, and if you are worrying that the image will take a long time to load, and will actually waste your time, you are wrong. Google says that the snippets will load in a tenth of a second. And when you click one image, it automatically starts loading the rest of the snippets in the results. My experience says that they are pretty close to what they say. And I have a really slow connection.

My take on this: Though I love Google Instant, and even this new feature, I don't think it could be of a lot of use. I haven't played around with it a lot, but I feel that opening up results in tabs (especially after keyboard navigation is so great) and then closing them one by one saves a lot of time, compared to looking at snippets in the search results. But I do appreciate this, though, and I accept it positively anyway.

Tip: If you are a keyboard ninja, you'll want to know this. When navigating the results using the keyboard, you can press the right arrow key to see the snippets. Then you can even use the up and down directional keys to scroll up and down the page, while looking at the same snippet. Press the left key to close the page preview and you can use the up and down keys normally again.

Update: I now feel that this feature is really useful, unlike what I've written in this review.