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First launched just way back in 2010, Google Instant Search was supposed to be the future of search, saving countless precious seconds each day by loading results dynamically as you typed, freeing users from the chains of the enter key. The feature was big news at the time — and not just in the tech world, but the broader online and traditional media as well. Instant demonstrated the technical prowess of Google at the time, and the continuing strength of its core product.
Only now, Google Instant Search is being retired. The reason? More of us search on mobile devices, without Instant (where Instant was never introduced), and so it makes more sense to maintain just one version of Search on both mobile and desktop.
SearchEngineLand, which broke the story, received this statement from Google:
We launched Google Instant back in 2010 with the goal to provide users with the information they need as quickly as possible, even as they typed their searches on desktop devices. Since then, many more of our searches happen on mobile, with very different input and interaction and screen constraints. With this in mind, we have decided to remove Google Instant, so we can focus on ways to make Search even faster and more fluid on all devices.
The fact that the change went mostly unnoticed perhaps demonstrates that Instant was always overkill, and that for most of us, hitting the enter key or clicking a prediction isn’t a big deal.