Let me just come out and say it: I hate the new iGoogle. And I want my old home page back.
As you may know, I’m generally fond of many of Google’s offerings. But this change is just godawful, and it’s on a service that I (and many others) really depend on throughout the day. And I’m far from alone in my sentiment.
The problem, to put it simply, is that the new iGoogle looks and functions like a downgrade from the last one. Honestly, if someone just showed it to me with no context, I would have taken it for an old alpha version of the service. There’s suddenly a huge amount of clutter, wasted space, and missing features. The new left navigation bar eats up valuable screen real estate and serves as a general annoyance. If some people prefer that to the small top bar navigation that used to be there, fine — but how about a choice instead of a forced change?
The new iGoogle also gets rid of the ability to show story headlines with the option to get an expanded summary within the widgets. You used to be able to see the headlines alone, then click on a “+” to see a short summary of any given article. Now, you are limited to the choice of headlines only — with no expansion capability — or a full summary for every headline on the page, which adds to the clutter problem.
The new configuration’s only real “advantage,” if you want to call it that, is the fact that you can now view any widget in a full-page mode. To me, that’s absolutely not the purpose of this utility. If I want to view something in a full-page mode, I can open it in another tab. I use my iGoogle page to get a quick glimpse of content at an easy glance, then decide where to go. If I want full-page in-window reading, I’d go to Google Reader.
The Real Reason?
But therein underscores what may be the ultimate reason for the change: The now-unavoidable full-page mode allows providers to place ads or other revenue-generating material within their content, whereas the previous non-full-page widget with optional expansion did not. It’s a benefit for the advertisers at the expense of the users.
Come on, Google. You guys are better than this. Give me my goddamned home page back — or at least give me the option to choose between the two. This is a downright downgrade from a user perspective, and you know it as well as I do.