Having had a few more hours to explore Google Instant there are four things that I find seriously annoying about it:
1. The way the suggestions and results are displayed is so messy and busy. AlltheWeb’s LiveSearch implementation was so much slicker and easier to follow. A pity that Yahoo did not follow through on that one but they never have taken really good experimental stuff further.
2. You only get 10 results per page regardless of what you have on your Settings page. This is a major problem for me because I have my display set to 100. I don’t trust the first results in a Google search to be – er, how shall I put it – unbiased, and I want to be able to quickly scan through at least 30 or 40 to get an indication of whether or not I need to modify my strategy. Having to keep clicking for the next page is going to drive me up the wall. I can understand, though, that allowing everyone to have more than 10 results per page would probably slow down the processing and display of results.
3. The Wonderwheel has gone from Google Instant results. I don’t use this feature that often but it does sometimes help me narrow my search or to branch out in a completely different direction.
4. It messes up several of my Firefox add-ons, in particular OptimizeGoogle. Google SearchWiki (now defunct) did exactly the same.
I have now turned off Google Instant. It offers me no benefits that compensate for the loss of features and options.
Many people are also complaining that the ability to turn off query suggestions has now disappeared (thanks to Paul Chapman for bringing this to my attention – see his comment to my initial Google Instant review at http://www.rba.co.uk/wordpress/2010/09/09/google-instant-display-results-as-you-type/comment-page-1/#comment-8637). You can still do it if you use Google SSL at https://encrypted.google.com/ but that is no help whatsoever if you want to use a country version of Google as I often do. To be honest I rarely pay any attention to the suggested queries and most of the time I start my search from the Google Toolbar where I have suggestions turned off. But if you really do not want query suggestions or it causes technical problems, and Google does not reinstate the turn-off option, the main alternatives are Yahoo or Bing. Both still allow you to switch it off.