Thursday, November 20, 2008

New iGoogle

A note on the recent changes to iGoogle

Recently we rolled out some new iGoogle features, including full-screen gadgets and a left-side navigation bar. We've gotten a lot of feedback since then, not all of it positive, and we've been listening. We appreciate how passionate many of you are about your iGoogle homepage, and your opinions matter a lot. So we'd like to explain more fully what changes we've made, why we've made them, and why we hope that over time most of you will agree that they improve the iGoogle experience.

Full-screen gadgets

Up until now, iGoogle has been focused on quick, at-a-glance access to the information you care about, and smaller gadgets fit that philosophy. But we recognize that sometimes quick updates aren't all you're looking for, so we've created a feature that lets you expand all your gadgets to full screen, or "canvas view," and thus experience much more, and much richer, content.

Gmail gadget

Now, for instance, you can do a quick email check in your Gmail gadget, or open it to canvas view to write and respond to emails from within iGoogle. You can check the temperature in your weather gadget or expand it to get a detailed forecast for a weekend trip. You can watch videos, play games and use countless more rich applications, all in full screen, and all from inside iGoogle. (Here are some examples of gadgets you might want to check out.)

Expanding and minimizing your gadgets

Expand your gadget to full-screen by clicking its name on the left-side navigation bar or the maximize button on the gadget itself. Click the button or gadget name to return to your regular iGoogle view.

weather gadget

Similarly, your RSS gadgets now offer both a quick glance at a given topic and a full-screen multimedia view of material you want to explore more fully, including inline videos and photos. If you have Google Reader, you can also keep track of what you've read and star your favorite feeds.

Google reader

Left navigation bar

All this new gadget functionality made it important to look more closely at how we help you find and use content on iGoogle. Based on your feedback, it's clear that the new left-hand navigation bar is the most controversial change we've made.

The new left nav shows you all your subject tabs (for Sports, News, Music, etc), neatly organized with the gadgets for each tab listed underneath. We think this new format makes it much easier to find specific gadgets (especially as your number of collected gadgets grows) and quickly click them in and out of canvas view.

But this new navigation also reflects our belief that, over time, the web in general and iGoogle in particular will become more personalized but also more social -- more focused on connecting us with our friends through shared online activities. We're working on a number of new features that address this mission. For instance, we're planning on integrating a chat feature into iGoogle, and we think you'll want to have easy, persistent access to it, just like you have on your Gmail page today.

In short, we want iGoogle to grow right along with the web. The newest iteration of this evolution may seem jarring to some people today, but we believe that over time, a better-organized and more socially connected iGoogle homepage will be essential to helping us all make the most of all that the web has to offer.

Google Talk gadget

We hope this page has helped to explain the thinking behind iGoogle's new features and offered some useful ideas on how to make the most of your web content. Thanks again for your feedback; it's a crucial aspect of our product development process, and we'll always take your views into account as we continue to work to improve iGoogle as much as possible.


Your Nitin Krister

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