Despite Google's far-flung ambitions—robot-driven cars!—search remains its largest, most important product. And while users may sometimes take Googling for granted, Google itself does not, as best depicted by its launch of Instant, the jaw-dropping showcase of search results that materializes as you're still entering a query. Johanna Wright, the product manager on the search team who led the push on Instant, told us how Google restlessly improves its search engine:
We make about 100 quality upgrades to the search engine each quarter, and we're running between 50 and 200 experiments at any one time. So many of the things I'm most proud of are the hidden quality changes that no one can see.
The idea of search as you type has been around Google for a long time, but the magical innovation moment came when one of our engineers realized that we should tie searching as you type to autocomplete. All of a sudden, you could see how this would be a compelling product.
The perfect search engine needs to be intelligent, personal, and interactive. The more we understand what you want, the more we can anticipate. But there's still a lot of room for us to grow and so much more we can do.