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Google Instant search a mobile boon?

Google's so-called Google Instant search may have only just rolled out on the desktop, but here's why we can't wait to see a solution for smartphones.

Like most of you, the first thing I did when hearing about Google Instant search was snap open a browser tab and begin testing the speedy new search results myself. My second action was to test the streaming search suggestions in my browser's search engine field. Nothing on Firefox or Chrome. My third attempt sent me to an Android phone, where Google.com patiently awaits your entire query before kicking off a search.

Google Instant Search on the desktop
Google Instant Search in action. Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Since Google's newly revealed paradigm for real-time searches was explicitly announced just for Google.com on the desktop, I wouldn't fault you for wondering why I set myself up for disappointment by trying mobile and browser searches that were guaranteed to fail. Let's just say that I was as much engaging in the very human act of verifying that the current status quo does indeed hold sway as I was imagining the results of the new search service applied to those locations, especially to the smartphone.

Google Instant search would especially be a boon for mobile phone users, and Google did share that it's working on a prototype of a mobile version. The tool isn't perfect; that we've ascertained in our hands-on tests. However, when it comes to mobile, any shortcut to save time in typing and processing data is worth its code in gold. When Wi-Fi and network connections are weak or in high competition is when quickly executed operations are their most valuable.

Yet a pervasive connection may be exactly what's needed to bring about the "instant" in instant search, which is likely Google's first hurdle. While at the beginning, mobile Google users who aren't privy to Wi-Fi or very strong data connections could potentially experience delayed results, there's another benefit to instant search, and that's granularity. Visiting Google.com from a mobile phone does not produce search suggestions, but entering a term into the universal search widget or via the hardware search button on an Android phone will. An addendum to this model that could offer more granular search results--contextual links instead of just a suggested term--isn't much of a stretch to the imagination.

While my vision could play out, Google does tend to push out iterations to its mobile Google.com Web site for iPhone and Android smartphones instead of creating dedicated app and usually only after new features have been tried and tested on the desktop. As far as I'm concerned, more granular search results can't come soon enough in any form--though connection blips that drag down "real time" results could blunt the benefit.