When Larry Page took over the reins from Eric Schmidt, apparently one of his first decrees was that all of Googles properties were to look prettier. A team of designers came up with the new design, featuring greys, curry reds, whites and a black top-bar which featured sharing options and notifications. Now the black bar is being rid of, in favor of a more minimal Google Bar:
This is what it looks like in my Gmail (by the way, if you haven’t received this bar yet, here’s how you can get it now):
Collapsing the black bar certainly gives some much welcome extra room (especially welcome in Maps and Reader). Also, I personally never used the plethora of links that sat right at the top of the page starting from left, so the collapsing of those into a dropdown menu makes some sort of sense.
The new bar is now without weirdness, though. First of all, in the implementation I’ve tried (by using the cookie hack linked earlier), the Google logo dropdown menu invokes on both hover and click. I’m personally a fan of click, since hover always feels slow to me, but it gets weird if you’re used to the Google logo taking you to the homepage. Take Gmail, for example, clicking the Gmail logo (which by the way is gone now), you’d be taken to your inbox. To get to your inbox now, you have to click the left-arrow that sits on top of your email.
It’s also a bit wierd that the Google.com homepage features a different Google-bar:
… it’s obvious when you think about it, of course: you can’t have two colorful logos and two searchboxes competing on the same page. Oh by the way, that black dropdown shown in the screenshot above is not invoked by yours truly, it’s now shown by default when you visit the Google homepage. But at least they killed off the horrific white fade they had a while back.
It’s clear Google is in a state of flux at the moment. Some products are killed off, others are mutilated. At the same time, Google is prettier and more consistent than ever. Here’s hoping the dust settles at some point, and what made Google cool gets reintroduced.