Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Google Chrome Now Opens Search Pages Instantly by Prefetching

Last year, Google introduced Google Instant, a feature that auto completes queries and returns results immediately as the user typed. Today, the company unveiled a new feature called Instant Pages, available only to Chrome, that takes Google Instant a step further. After returning results for a query, Google will guess which results the user is likely to click and prefetch it in the background. If the user happens to actually click on the guessed result, the page will open instantly. Google says Instant Pages will save 2-7 seconds for every search.

Instant Pages will prerender results only when they’re confident that the user is going to click them, such as the top three results. “We’ve been working for years to develop our relevance technology, and we can fairly accurately predict when to prerender,” says Google. It's different than Firefox's pre-rendering, says Google, because it also executes some of the JavaScript, not just the HTML.

Google Fellow Amit Singhal said, that a typical guess will be the top results but there are cases when it will pre-render one of the lower results. The average user takes 15 seconds to scan a list of search results, Google estimates, so that one page should be loaded before you're done scanning. The service does not pre-render ads – only "organic" search results. Google hinted that it may expand the service to ads in the future.

Because Google is likely to make mistakes and render pages you don't actually want, this will undoubtedly skew page-view statistics for those running websites.

Instant Pages is currently available in the developer version of Google Chrome; it will be available in the beta channel on next update. You can test Instant Pages on now. Later on the functionality could be extended to other sites as well. Google has even open sourced its pre-rendering code, and it hopes that other browser vendors will adopt the technology as well.


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