“What’s old is new again” the saying goes. Google Instant is a pretty interesting UI change. One of the big things mentioned is that all you need to do is type “w” and you’ll see the local weather. A way to get information by just typing… some of us know that as command line interface.
Essentially we’re seeing Google move from a point & click UI to almost a command line UI. For ages the focus was automatically set on the search box, no need to click on it. Just type, press enter or as I’m sure many (if not the majority did) mouse over the “search” button and click on it and you got search results. It’s just another step forward in simplifying the process. This is one less interaction (pressing search).
It’s interesting to see a less mouse centric UI develop after decades of anti-keyboard UI. For those of us comfortable typing quickly and using keyboard shortcuts constantly it’s a constant nuisance when applications don’t handle shortcuts nicely. We’re now seeing an effort to reduce use of the mouse, even if it’s just to press the “Search” button. One less reason to take your hands off the keyboard.
One interesting quirk I’ve noticed is Google’s calculator (the ability to type a math problem into Google and get an answer) just feels awkward and unpolished. I suspect they will improve upon that shortly. This can vastly improve the utility of these little applications. Google has several little apps built into its search (try typing “movies” for example). It’s just that much easier to use.