Google Unveils a Faster Search

Google Instant is intended to cut users' search times by three to five seconds.
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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The mystery behind Google's (GOOG) - Get Report morphing home page logo was solved at the company's press event Wednesday, where executives said the changing moniker symbolizes a tuned-up Google search engine.

At San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art, the company unveiled Google Instant, a new search process that shows users results as they type, which is intended to save users two to five seconds each time they perform a Google search. Collectively, said Google, the new search will save people more than 3.5 billion seconds a day, or 11 hours saved each second.

"Never underestimate fast," said Marissa Mayer, Google's vice president of search products and user experience, on a live Webcast of the event. (The quote became the event catch phrase for each Google employee who stood up to talk during the presentation.) "

Google Instant is a fundamental shift in how people think and do search."

While that remains to be seen, Google, which has been playing around with predictive searching -- or guessing at users' search terms before they're done typing -- for a while, now allows users to see search a list of results before they finish typing a query.

For example, when users push the "W" key, the weather forecast for their area automatically appears beneath the search box -- without performing more than one keystroke. Google Instant also allows people to use the down arrow key to scroll through each of the suggestions, with the results page updating as users go along.

While Wednesday's announcement is a logical extension of the company's exisiting predictive technology, it's not exactly the type of earth-shattering news that investors have come to expect from Google, whose Android OS updates see more ignition of chatter. Still, the software tweaks aren't likely to hurt Google's retention of its stronghold on the U.S. search market, which according to ComScore, comprises about 66%. That's a big lead over second-place

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

, which holds about 17%.

Investors warmed to the update -- Google's share price was up almost $7 to $471.21 following the event.

Google Instant, which will be available later today on the Google Chrome, Internet Explorer 8, Firefox and Safari browsers, will come to mobile devices later this fall.

--Written by Maggie Overfelt in New York.

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