Way back in 2010 Google introduced the Google Instant feature, which preloads results while you type your query. It was a big change (“a fundamental shift in search” according to Merissa Mayer, the former VP of Google’s Search and Experience) at the time and got a lot of worldwide attention.
Since then the scenario has changed a lot. Now more than 50% of Google’s searches are now from mobile devices, a figure that is increasing continually with time. With this in mind, Google has decided to drop this feature effective today.
A Google Spokesperson stated the following to Search Engine Land:
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.
There will no longer be preloaded results waiting for you before you finish typing. With Instant Search gone, you will only see search suggestions below your search box and results will be shown when you click (or tap) on a suggestion, but in truth, Instant wasn’t really all that helpful due to the type of interaction associated with a smartphone. What can be assumed is there will be a much more uniform search experience across desktop and mobile.