Marissa Mayer, Google's VP of Search Products & User Experience, called the new feature a "fundamental shift in search," according to CNET's live blog from the event.
Faster Searches: By predicting your search and showing results before you finish typing, Google Instant can save 2-5 seconds per search.
Smarter Predictions: Even when you don't know exactly what you're looking for, predictions help guide your search. The top prediction is shown in grey text directly in the search box, so you can stop typing as soon as you see what you need.
Instant Results: Start typing and results appear right before your eyes. Until now, you had to type a full search term, hit return, and hope for the right results. Now results appear instantly as you type, helping you see where you're headed, every step of the way.
"Many think of Google Instant as 'search as you type,' but really it's search 'before you type,'" Mayer explained. "There's almost a psychic element to it, because Google tries to predict the results and present them to you in real time," she said, according to Ars Technica. Mayer estimated that Google Instant may be able to save users 2 to 5 seconds per query.
Google Instant will be the default setting for users. As the screenshots below show, with Google Instant, the search results returned vary as the user types in their query. Type "H" into Google's search box, and Google will show you the results for "Hotmail," with several other suggested search terms ("Hulu," "Home Depot," "Hopstop") in a drop-down menu. Adding another letter--"H-U"--automatically causes the search results to refresh, and returns new suggestions.
Several have noted that Google Instant will censor "NSFW" results. ReadWriteWeb's Marshall Kirkpatrick noted in a tweet, "NSFW results will not be instanted, even if you have safe search off. search results go blank for naughty queries." "I want to turn off the Google censor on Google Instant. Try searching for a naughty word. Doesn't work. I feel like I live in China," Robert Scoble tweeted.
Google CEO Eric Schmidt teased the new feature in a tweet earlier today. "I predict big things happening today at Google. We're already fast.. fast is about to get faster," Schmidt wrote.
See Google Instant in action in the video below, or watch Google's video introduction to the new feature. MORE: Find out which websites are winning Google Instant, how to disable the feature, and what users think of it. LOOK: