Remember Google Instant? Now, Yahoo's got something like that -- it's called Search Direct -- and like Instant, it consists of a search box that quickly and automatically suggests results as you type. Unlike Instant, however, it won't update the entire results page to reflect the outcome of your potential search, but rather just an enlarged search box like the one you see above, providing up to ten suggested queries and three suggested results. That makes it a little bit speedier (we were able to use it on our 3G phone connection quite easily) but also fairly limited in comparison. It's also a bit... ahem... self-serving, as any search that happens to include the same letters as one of Yahoo's own services will promote them above all others in the results -- in fact, only five letters of the alphabet presently bring up anything but a Yahoo website as the first result when typed in solo.
  • I = iTunes
  • J = Jennifer Lopez
  • Q = QVC
  • X = Xbox 360
  • Z = Zsa Zsa Gabor
Some of the improved functionality is pretty useful, though, as that Xbox query will instantly bring up prices for the console, and you can type in "movies" or "weather" and your zip code to immediately plan your night out. ("Restaurants" and "food" don't work, though.) Anyhow, Search Direct is in beta. Why not give it a go?
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Yahoo! Introduces Search Direct – A Simpler Way to Find Answers Fast

New Yahoo! search technology adds immediate, rich media content, going beyond just links


SUNNYVALE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO - News), the premier digital media company, today announced Search Direct, which delivers answers and direct access to websites before you complete a query, hit the search button, or go to a search results page. This search innovation supports Yahoo!'s strategy to fundamentally shift the way people experience the Web – by providing the richest, most integrated content faster and more efficiently.

This new feature, currently in beta, taps into Yahoo!'s unique opportunity to combine content and structured data and to provide a rich search experience. Search Direct predicts search results as fast as a person types, character by character, and presents those results dynamically, generating a fast, simple search experience that goes beyond a list of blue links. Search Direct rolls out in a public beta to Yahoo! users across the U.S. today, and will be available in other Yahoo! products and markets later this year.

"With today's launch, direct answers – not the search results page – is the primary focus. We are redefining the search process and prominently displaying direct answers where search decisions are being made," said Shashi Seth, senior vice president, Yahoo! Search and Marketplaces. "Search Direct is evidence of Yahoo! continuing to lead innovation in search, enabling people to take action faster, find what is most important, and sample what is possible with the next stage of search technology."

With Search Direct, Yahoo! content is combined with information from the Web to provide rich answers, not just links, and to give people the option to immediately engage or continue to a traditional search results page. In this beta release, coverage includes top trending searches, movies, TV, sports teams and players, weather, local, travel, stocks, and shopping categories now available at search.yahoo.com.

Trending Searches – The moment the cursor hits the search box, top search trends appear and are updated every 10 minutes to display the latest and greatest search trends.
Search Previews – Search Direct predicts the search term as you type, providing the 10 most likely searches. You can then easily scan each option to see the related top results and find the best match for your needs.

Direct Answers – For many common searches, Search Direct provides instant answers before you click the Search button. Find an address or phone number, a three-day weather forecast, financial stock performance, the top trending stories at Yahoo! News, or when and where a movie is playing – all without going to a results page.

Direct Results – When you scan the search options and find the site you need, Search Direct provides exactly that – direct access to the site. No more overwhelming pages of links.

Rich Content – For all top searches about sports, top news stories, and finance, Search Direct displays rich content that only the world's largest digital media company can provide. For example, type "n" to get the Yahoo! News display, which always shows the top two trending stories.

Yahoo! will continue to enhance and update Search Direct with new content, such as popular music and local listings. For more information and a demo video of Search Direct from Yahoo!, visit search.yahoo.com and our company blog, Yodel Anecdotal, at yodel.yahoo.com.

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Yahoo intros Search Direct, takes on Google Instant with insular effect