Yahoo debuts beta of Instant Search

Net portal says it is trying to make its search results more relevant--and immediate--with this new tool.

Yahoo on Thursday unveiled a beta version of a search tool that pops up results before a user is finished typing.

Instant Search is now available at Yahoo's Web site. While a word is being typed into its search box, it checks if a single, relevant answer is available. Common results are displayed just below the search box, in the form of a "speech bubble."

For example, typing in "bos" pops up a link to current conditions at Boston's Logan Airport (which has a BOS code). "Boston" pops up a link to, while "Boston weather" produces a forecast in a bubble. If the bubble's contents contain the right result, a user does not need to hit the "Search the Web" button or the Enter key, or scroll through pages of results to find the right one on which to click.

The new offering uses AJAX Web technology, which reduces the need for Web clients to reconnect to a Web server every time information is downloaded. Yahoo's Instant Search tool is under development, so more features are likely to be added in the near future, Yahoo said.

The competition among search companies such as Google, MSN and Yahoo is heating up, and all of them are engaged in adding new features and tools to their offerings.