Though it feels like just yesterday that the black Google toolbar began to show up, providing easy ways to access Gmail, docs, your calendar, and more (when you are signed in), it is already getting expanded functionality. Over the next few days, Google will be rolling this feature out to all users (I haven’t gotten to use the new bar myself yet, which is why you’ll notice the images in this blog post are not of my screen but are instead from a Google post about this update).
What are the Changes?
Google hopes to achieve greater visibility for its products (namely, for Google +, it seems) with the revamped bar, which will now be gray. The design is much more consistent with Google +’s simple, streamlined look:
This image and the two images below are courtesy of Google.
If you hover over the Google logo, there will be a drop down menu with links to all your favorite Google products and services, like Google +, Gmail, maps, YouTube, Documents and more.
At the center of the bar, you’ll notice a search bar. This is for you to search within whichever Google service you happen to be using at the time; so, if you’re in docs, you can use this bar to search for a particular document. You’ll notice voice search is integrated within this box.
But what I really find interesting is the Google + integration. On the right side of the toolbar, you’ll see a button so that you can share any webpage you’re on with your Google + network. When you click on “share,” a box comes up that is just like the box in the Google + stream that you would use to share something when you’re actually on Google +.
Further, you can also see how many Google + notifications you have more easily. This, coupled with the recent Thanksgiving day commercial and the new bright blue stripe across the Google page that we noticed last night (it shows up when you aren’t signed in) reflects Google’s push to make Google + more mainstream (and less tech-y, perhaps?).
We noticed this new addition to the Google home page – Google really makes sure you can’t miss Google +. As someone who is already on the social network, I find this kind of advertising slightly exploitive (let’s face it, they do it because they can) and a little annoying, for lack of a better word. While I love using Google, the search engine is getting very pushy, promoting its own products and nearly at the expense of objectivity when it comes to providing the best search experience possible.
On the one hand, we know that Google is moving towards a more personalized web. However, many Google users may not want to join Google +, and that should be okay. They should be able to choose to not have their search results personalized. Google, with ads like these and changes to the (currently black) toolbar that deeply integrate Google +’s design and features, is risking turning users away with its pushiness (in my opinion). As an existing Google + user, I’m a little bit turned off by the Google + overkill!
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