Ever since Google Instant launched yesterday, I’ve been asking myself, “Where have I seen this before?” Today, it finally hit me: Google TV. The TV platform set to launch this fall with initial devices from Logitech and Sony will put search front and center, allowing users to find local content, YouTube videos, TV programming and web sites through one universal search box.
And guess what? Early demo videos clearly show a Google Instant-like search functionality.
The experience doesn’t seem quite as snappy as the web version of Google Instant that was launched yesterday, but the video embedded above clearly shows Google TV display search results after users enter just a few characters, and Google TV immediately displays corresponding content. In one instance, it displays the Chrome Browser app while a user types “CB,” only to switch to CBS shows once the search term “CBS” is complete. In another instance, Google TV displays various search results for The Big Bang Theory after a user typed in as little as “big b.”
In general, Google TV displays search results in tiers: Best matches appear first, then users get results just from their Google TV device, including sources like cable TV and subscribed podcasts, with a third tier offering the option to extend the search to the entire web.
Of course, I don’t want to assume that Google Instant directly powers search within Google TV. It’s a big company, and projects like these generally aren’t all that connected. But an Instant-like search approach clearly makes a lot of sense for a TV environment. Google TV devices will be available with full QWERTY keyboards, but chances are, many users will opt to navigate with a more limited TV remote or even a smart phone instead. Taking the pain out of typing long search terms definitely helps to make search more appealing for the living room.
Predictive filtering is also much easier if you have a limited set of search results to chose from. Google Instant currently offers access to almost the entire Google index. Google TV search, on the other hand, deals with much smaller data sets.
Liz Gannes wrote yesterday on GigaOm that Google Instant looks and feels like a mobile app. The app part is true, but I’d argue that the approach works just as well for the living room TV set.
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