Firefox flirts with Blekko for 'instant' search

An experimental add-on from Mozilla and Blekko powers a new take on "instant" search results in Firefox.

The Blekko add-on from Mozilla Labs provides a new take on 'instant' search results.

(Credit: Mozilla)

Mozilla may not have a dedicated in-house search engine division the way that Google and Microsoft do, but it does have a new partnership with alterna-search Blekko.

The Blekko add-on (download), developed by Mozilla Labs' Prospector team, aims to cut down on the repetitive search behaviors of many Firefox users. Mozilla says that its research indicates that people often search for the same term, not because they're looking to find it again but because they're attempting to navigate elsewhere. This add-on, like Google's Instant search feature, cuts down on the extra steps by pre-caching sites, showing preview pages, and recognizing commonly searched-for terms from only a few typed letters.

The add-on changes your default search to Blekko, and it's restartless, which means that Firefox won't have to be closed and re-opened to use the add-on.

To use it, go to your search box and begin typing. If the first letter you hit is "T," a drop-down will appear with links to Target, Twitter, Ticketmaster, and a few other sites. Direct links are indicated by the site's icon, while search results for a particular term are denoted with Blekko's icon.

By default, the first result is highlighted, and a preview of that page will appear. If that site is a service like Twitter and you're already logged in, the preview will reflect that. Two options at the bottom of the drop-down let you toggle the preview and pre-selecting the first result.

The author of the blog post announcing the add-on, Mozilla programmer Edward Lee, said that future developments in the add-on could expand to site previews and search results across more than one preview tab. Including results from other engines are also an option, he wrote.

However, just because Mozilla is playing around with search options in an add-on doesn't mean it's about to jeopardize its Google funding, just as Google's development of Chrome didn't mean that it was going to cut off Firefox at the knees.

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