Five things you need to know about Google Instant

Everything you wanted to know about Google's Instant Search, but were afraid to ask...

1. Will Google instant search slow down your Internet connection?

Even though Google's new Instant Search feature effectively submits a new search each time you enter a character, multiplying the total number of search queries you send, the search giant says it does not anticipate that it will slow down Internet connections. Search queries have been streamlined for the new service to minimise the amount of data that is sent by each request - and Google is working on a feature that automatically turns the service off for very slow Internet connections.

2. If a rude word forms the first part of my search query, will I see related results on my screen?

Internet users of a nervous disposition will be glad to know that as long as they use Google's SafeSearch feature to filter results, searches for such innocent delights as Dickens, sextuplets and Cockermouth will never result in their innocent eyes being assailed by the torrent of filth* that we all know to be lurking around every corner of the Internet.

This didn't come as much comfort to Advertising Age correspondent Irina Slutsky, who complained that her name was destined never to appear quickly on a Google Instant Search - a problem to which Google was unable to find an answer.

Sympathies, too, to those outdoors lovers who may henceforth never discover a jewel of the Bavarian mountains that rejoices in the name of Wank, which appears destined to remain forever undiscovered by Google Instant users - except, of course, for those dissolute enough to turn off Google's filth filter.

3. Is Google Instant available for mobiles?

As yet, Google Instant has not gone on full release for mobile users, though the search giant promises to roll it out in the autumn. For those who want to have a peek at the new feature's functionality for mobile devices, you can find Google's mobile test page here.

4. Who can get Google Instant?

Google Instant is available to users of Google's Chrome browser versions 5 and 6, Firefox v3, Safari v5 for Mac and Internet Explorer 8. As well as the US, it has currently been made available to users in the UK, France, Italy, Germany Spain and Russia, who are signed into a Google account.

5. Doesn't Google Instant mean searches will consume more power?

Undoubtedly. AJAX, one of the 15 new technologies employed by Google Instant, replaces existing HTML-based search, enabling browsers to constantly submit autocomplete requests, rather than waiting for a 'submit' button. And each of those requests which trigger Google's servers to come up not only with a list of matches, but with a list of predictions as to what the user will type next - a sort of 'pre-fetch' to speed things along.

Every one of those requests amounts to a new search. We'll be grilling Google on the environmental impact of its new search technology in the near future, so watch this space.

*Of which we are reliably informed, even if we at THINQ have never encountered it first-hand.