Opinions vary on whether Google Instant is a time-saver or very distracting. I hear Ross Perot's Texan twang--"Can I finish? Can I finish?"--each time Google anxiously starts returning search results as soon as I enter the first letter into the search bar. Thankfully, there is a way to turn off this feature, and the hardest part about it is knowing where to look.… Read more
Google is helping people get to their desired search results pages much sooner than they have in the past.
The company unveiled today a new feature called Instant Pages. After inputting a search query, users will be able to open results almost instantly. Previously, the company said, page loads from Google Search would take about 5 seconds to complete. The company pointed to the homepage for The Washington Post, which takes 3.2 seconds to load in average circumstances, but pops up instantly with the help of Instant Pages.
The most audacious start-up pitches are those that propose changing people's communications habits. No matter how clever a company's technology or gorgeous an app's interface, getting users to adopt new modalities of communication is perhaps the hardest job in tech.
It's a social challenge as much as a technological one, which means that if you get it right, your technology spreads from person to person--virally, as the overused term calls it. Lately, social start-ups have been adopting strange, mutated viral models: Path is a social app that launched with a bizarrely limited way to join networks. Color opens you up to pop-up social networks based on physical proximity. Both clever but far outside most users' comfort zones.
A new app, CloudTalk (previously Pana.ma) is a person-to-person voice and video messaging app. On paper it looks like an unpleasant mashup of voice and SMS, but it's not. CloudTalk is a very smart system for sending asynchronous voice (or video or text) messages to your contacts, and I believe its interaction model is appropriate for the way people communication today--especially kids.
As CloudTalk founder David Hayden (formerly of Magellan and Critical Path) says, as we discuss the younger generation's growing reliance on text messaging, "It's not that kids don't like to talk. It that they don't like phone calls." CloudTalk is designed around recording voice messages. You can also send photos, videos, or text, but the interface favors voice. Conversations appear in a list window much like a iPhone's display of an SMS thread or an instant message chat.
I was skeptical that this app would add anything worthwhile to the standard quiver of smartphone communication tools we all have, but to my surprise it works well, and it's worth using. I've never seen an application that does such short work of sending voice messages or that makes it so straightforward to mix modalities in a message thread. If you want to reply to a voice message with text or video, it's easy. Or vice versa. The only thing you can't do yet is call or FaceTime a person for a real-time discussion from within an asynchronous thread.
It's easy to add people to your CloudTalk address book by scanning through your smartphone's address book to find people who are also CloudTalk users. You can also search the online directory for users you know, much as you can with Skype.… Read more
Though Google Toolbar 7 for Firefox launched several months ago, the Internet Explorer version (download) went live just this week. It brings Google Instant to the popular toolbar, along with more robust privacy options and a cleaner interface.
Although the support for Google Instant search is the most notable feature improvement in version 7, what appears most interesting is the way that the toolbar lets you know that features like Instant, which require tracking to work, actually do track you. While this might not be news to some, it's a strong reminder that many of the data-rich features that … Read more
MenuEverywhere helps power users--and anyone else with multiple monitors, or just a very large monitor--get quick access to an application's menu bar, from any window or any screen.
MenuEverywhere works in the background, with a slim CPU footprint and an extensive set of preferences to control its appearance and behavior. You can set MenuEverywhere to put a complete menu bar on the top of every window associated with an app (for example, the Photoshop menu bar on every Photoshop window, no matter which monitor the window appears in), or you can have it just place a single "Menu&… Read more
We're big fans of Netflix's online streaming service, but with tons of content to sift through, it can be hard to find stuff worth watching. That can be especially true for television series, where new shows and seasons are constantly being added or taken away. It doesn't help that the Netflix browsing experience isn't the best, and it's often inconsistent from platform to platform.
To help you dig through the thousands of streaming titles available on Netflix, we asked CNET staffers to pick their favorite currently available shows. For this roundup, we're restricting ourselves … Read more
Always looking for new ways to deliver its search results, Google has rolled out a new app that combines instant messaging with search.
Launched today as the latest experiment in the Google Labs playground, Google Talk Guru offers you a chat session through which you can ask certain questions and receive responses from an automated bot set up on the back end.
For now, the app can handle only certain types of questions from among a limited number of categories, such as weather, sports scores, math equations, definitions, and translations. But like other Google Labs apps, it's something to … Read more
Yahoo today announced upgrades to its search product that bring up search results in real-time as a query is typed, much like the "Google Instant" technology launched last year. Called "Search Direct," Yahoo says this still-in-beta service will provide "a fast, simple search experience that goes beyond a list of blue links."
Highlighted in Yahoo Search Direct are results beyond the hyperlink, with its ability to detect queries related to movies, television, local information, and trending news topics.
"With today's launch, direct answers--not the search results page--is the primary focus. We are … Read more
In September, Google said it hoped to bring its then-new Google Instant search feature to users of the Opera browser "shortly." A half-year later, there's still no sign of it.
Google still is working on it, though.
"We've encountered some technical barriers that are temporarily preventing us from making Instant available for Opera," Google said in a statement yesterday. "It's difficult for us to estimate when we will overcome these barriers, but we want to bring Instant to as many browsers, platforms and regions as possible."
It's not clear exactly … Read more
Google announced earlier this week that it has enabled Instant Previews for Android handsets running Froyo (version 2.2) or later. Like its desktop counterpart, it allows you to see search results in a handy image format before clicking blindly on a link.
The feature is perfect for a number of scenarios, such as step-by-step instructions and how-to guides. What's more, providing a cached screenshot preview of the results is very convenient for smaller screens. I know I've grown frustrated by having to navigate the mobile browser back and forth, looking for the right page.
Instant Previews does … Read more