Google search results displaying differently Google search results displaying differently
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  1. #1

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    Default Google search results displaying differently

    A few days ago, Google search results started displaying differently on my laptop. Each result is inside a box and centered on the screen, and it's much narrower than the full screen. I'm guessing it might be a mobile layout?

    I'm using an old Opera browser but it's worked fine for years. AFAIK, I haven't changed anything.

    It's not a biggie, just curious to know if anyone else has encountered this.

    Thanks.

  2. #2

    TykeLike

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    Quote Originally Posted by DealorNoDeal View Post
    A few days ago, Google search results started displaying differently on my laptop. Each result is inside a box and centered on the screen, and it's much narrower than the full screen. I'm guessing it might be a mobile layout?

    I'm using an old Opera browser but it's worked fine for years. AFAIK, I haven't changed anything.

    It's not a biggie, just curious to know if anyone else has encountered this.

    Thanks.
    Yep, happening to me on mobile Chrome too
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  3. #3

    Prof Cunning @ Oxford Uni

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    Do the results have AMP in the corner of them?

    Google “improved” their search engine recently meaning that it preloads web pages by reformatting them - making them very difficult to read if your screen size doesn’t match what Google dictates the page should look like.

    If you can switch to searching using encrypted google, that will do it, alternatively switch off preloading of top hits and search suggestions.
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  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by WTFH View Post
    Do the results have AMP in the corner of them?

    Google “improved” their search engine recently meaning that it preloads web pages by reformatting them - making them very difficult to read if your screen size doesn’t match what Google dictates the page should look like.

    If you can switch to searching using encrypted google, that will do it, alternatively switch off preloading of top hits and search suggestions.
    No AMP. encrypted.google.com seems to have been discontinued.

    I've uploaded a screenshot here. (For some reason, it's a bit blurred.)

    google — imgbb.com
    Last edited by DealorNoDeal; 28th November 2019 at 12:48.

  5. #5

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    It’s probably either a CSS or a JavaScript support issue.

    The styling of web pages in such a way that they adapt to mobile (aka responsive design) depends on CSS Media Queries, aka @media queries. These are a way of saying, for example, “If this browser has a window wider than so many pixels, apply the following styles”. There’s also @support queries: “If this browser supports feature x, then apply these styles; if not, apply those."

    A typical approach is to apply a set of basic styles that will work on anything, then use @media and @support queries to determine what enhanced styles to apply. And as the CSS standard adds new capabilities and new browser versions implement them, so it becomes more likely that a site will start to use a capability older browsers can’t handle.

    So I’d guess that Google, who (like most people/companies) have a policy of supporting all browsers up to a certain age with the same styles and then falling back to the most basic styling, have started using some capability which your old version of Opera doesn’t support, in that it either doesn’t understand some @media query and so doesn’t apply those styles, or doesn’t support something specified by an @support query. As a result, your browser is getting the basic fallback styling, which is usually the styles that will work on ancient and underpowered phones.

    But I might be completely wrong about the CSS stuff being the cause, as Google shows what sounds like the same results page when JavaScript is disabled. So it might be that some of their JavaScript is failing, though that again would probably be because it depends on a feature supported in more recent browsers.

    If the reason you use Opera is some of its various features other than the rendering engine, then upgrading to the latest version should see you right. If you prefer not to upgrade for some reason, then you’ll probably find more sites showing similar behaviour as time goes by (and some badly-constructed ones not working at all).

    Incidentally, newer versions of Opera (since around 2013) use the Chromium browser’s Blink rendering engine (formerly WebKit), also used by Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge (as of next month), and a load of other browsers most people have never heard of. So keeping Opera up-to-date will generally mean anything that works on Google’s browser, which they naturally favour, will work on Opera.

  6. #6

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    I prefer to use Startpage.com - The world's most private search engine

    Unlike duckduckgo the website is good and by default it exclusively searches using google, unlike duckduckgo that also uses yahoo and bring - the former being horrendously bad.

    Image searches aren't watermarked and aren't limited in the way google's results are. In addition there is an anonymous view proxy for those client offices where you need those tech instructions that are erroneously blocked.

    It's by far the best search engine I've found for anonymisation.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by rogerfederer View Post
    I prefer to use Startpage.com - The world's most private search engine

    Unlike duckduckgo the website is good and by default it exclusively searches using google, unlike duckduckgo that also uses yahoo and bring - the former being horrendously bad.

    Image searches aren't watermarked and aren't limited in the way google's results are. In addition there is an anonymous view proxy for those client offices where you need those tech instructions that are erroneously blocked.

    It's by far the best search engine I've found for anonymisation.
    I highly rate that search engine. If you type DimPrawn in, near the top it says:

    Dimprawn is the most handsomest, richest and likeable person on CUK? FACT!


  8. #8

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    I did a bit of research, and other people have reported the same problem with older browsers (not just Opera). It has been suggested that Google is presenting a crappy UI to "encourage" people to upgrade their browsers.

    I found a work-around which was to change the user agent string, the browser sends, to make it look like it's more modern. (It's the "Firefox/31.0" which appears to make the difference.)

    Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; WOW64; rv:31.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/31.0

    I now get Google search which looks the same as on a more up to date browser. Although I still prefer the simpler classic interface I used to get.

    I tried a few different user agent strings. With an IE one, Google presents a link to install Chrome.

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