Starting the other day, I sorta noticed that related words and phrases would cascade below the Google box when I started typing a search. It took me a little while to recognize something new was afoot.
Google has indeed gotten a bit smarter, and more convenient. As explained by Jennifer Liu in the Official Google Blog, the search site has launched what it calls Google Suggest. The feature graduated this week from Google's labs.
It looks at searches others have conducted with the terms you type, and suggests them as choices for you. It can save typing, or help you think of the right word. It can also be a bit distracting, and can be turned off.
Now, Google in a sense is just catching up to competitors, notably Yahoo and Ask. They've had suggestions in place for a year or so, says Ionut Alex Chitu at his blog, Google Operating System. In fact, he prefers Yahoo's version. It doesn't appear until Yahoo senses a pause in typing—as if you're searching for the right word for your search.
Google defenders point out it had been testing the concept for four years. Insiders already knew how to add the feature. Google just made it the default choice now. It also had appeared in other Google services, including the Google Toolbar and on its site for mobile phones.
Whatever. It's a worthy addition that I'll leave turned on.