After all the years we’ve had Firefox plugins to insert page previews into search results, Google finally added their own. They dubbed it “Instant previews”. These previews are vertically larger than what any of the plugins did before, they include enlarged select portions of text relevant to your query, and they appear only when you click on a search result text (not on the link). After that, you can just hover the mouse above search results.
So what I wonder is: could it be that Google embarked on a journey to build a hyperfast browsing experience in order to provide a better search experience? Or was Chrome really just a part of a larger scheme to collect customer data and statistically analyze it, as was thought previously? I’m not sure; probably it was “let’s build a browser first” and then “what can we use the browser for?” — but the idea that Chrome might be the developed in order to alleviate performance issues that using some other browsers might create running on Google’s servers does not strike me as impossible. This way, they can generate previews without creating a horrible, horrible impact that using some other browser might create.
I just wonder when we’ll be able to see the codebase they use for creating the previews, and will they even release it, considering that WebKit’s LGPL (derived from KHTML’s LGPL) does not require source code release unless the binaries are released; even then, if libs are dynamically linked, source code release is required only for modified library binaries. Still, having a free, usable off-screen rendered WebKit would be very useful. But oh — there is already such a thing, for example Origyn Web Browser (site seems down, here’s a wikipedia link)