(In no particular order)
- Stopped support and development of their toolbar for Firefox
- Maybe it’s the cynic in me, but I have to believe that this was done to get more people to switch to Chrome. I mean why else would they do this? The only public mention of this by Google says that Firefox now has most of the toolbar’s functionality built-in to the browser. Well sure, if you take the time to install a bunch of add-ons and create new bookmarks.
- Removed the plus (+) as a search modifier
- It used to be that when you required a word or phrase in a search term, you could just slap a + in front of it (e.g. don’t be +evil). In what looks like a move related to pushing Google+, Google has removed this functionality and now requires you to place quotes around any words or terms you require (e.g. don’t be “evil”). Google says that this is an improvement but I disagree.
- Changed the look and functionality of Google reader
- I don’t really care about the social features of Google Reader changing (I never used them), and Google shifting them to be more integrated with Google+, but I don’t like the new look. I’m sure I’ll get used to it in time, but what’s the deal with this new weird spacing they’re introducing? Did everyone at Google get giant new monitors to work with?
- Changed the look of Gmail
- Ug, see above. I’ve used Gmail since day one. Thankfully the functionality hasn’t changed, but like Google Reader the look has. Again, what’s up with the spacing? And the themes? I used Gmail’s “shiny” theme and have grown attached to it. Guess what? The new version of Gmail doesn’t have a theme that looks as good, or uses my screen real estate as efficiently. C’mon Google, get some folks with an eye for design involved and stop letting the engineers control everything.
- Developed a social network that still doesn’t interest me
- Once Google+ opened to the masses I tried it. Now mind you I don’t use Twitter or Facebook, so this move took some extra effort on my part. But I figured since I use most of Google’s other services that this might be for me. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be. After a few days I stopped checking my plus “stream” and don’t miss it. If I want people to know something, I’ll publish it here. If I want a select group of folks to know something, I’ll email them. I also have a hard time with the layout and the never-ending stream of data from other people without some way to filter it. Seems like a lot of noise gets through and I already have a had enough time getting through all my RSS feed items and emails in a day.
- Shut down Google labs
- Google labs was a cool place to check out some of the more abstract idea Google had. Granted a lot of projects in the labs never made it out of beta, but it was a place to go to see what might be coming next. As John Dvorak put it, “This is a disaster for users. I can see no real rationale for turning off the labs and re-distributing all the cool and nifty programs and projects that are found all over the site. To me, this is Google pulling a Yahoo.”
- Changed the look of the search results page so that the right half of the page has a gaping hole for more page information
- Let me say that I like having the ability to preview sites before visiting them, but why did the company that revolutionized slick web interfaces (e.g. Google Maps) come up with such an ugly preview feature? When you’re not using it, half of the screen is empty. Huh? This is the best that Google could come up with? Oh, and while I’m talking about search results, why haven’t they restored the ability to have more than 10 results per page? Ever since Google instant came out, that option has been dead.
Things they’ve done recently that I’m pleased with
- Forced SSL for searches
- About time. Now only Google knows what I’m looking for instead of my ISP and anyone else within packet sniffing distance.
- Killed Google buzz
- How long did this one need to limp along before someone put it out of its misery?