iGoogle

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iGoogle
File:IGoogle screenshot.png
iGoogle, using the Earth-light theme, displaying news and weather
Developer(s) Google
Platform Web browsers
Type Web Gadgets
Website www.google.com/ig

iGoogle (formerly Google Personalized Homepage and Google IG), a service of Google, is a customizable AJAX-based startpage or personal web portal (much like Netvibes, Pageflakes, My Yahoo!, and Windows Live Personalized Experience). Google originally launched the service in May 2005. Its features include the capability to add web feeds and Google Gadgets (similar to those available on Google Desktop).[1]

On April 30, 2007, Google renamed "Google Personalized Homepage" to "iGoogle".[1] As of 17 October 2007 (2007 -10-17) Google had made the service available in many localized versions in 42 languages, and in over 70 country domain-names.[2][3]

Contents

Features

Gadgets

iGoogle gadgets interact with the user and utilize the Google Gadgets API. Some gadgets developed for Google Desktop can also be used within iGoogle. The Google Gadgets API is public and allows anyone to develop a gadget for any need.[4]

Google also allows all users to create a special gadget that does not require the use of the Gadgets API. The gadgets are designed to be shared with friends and family. The special gadgets must be created using an online wizard and must belong to one of the following types:

  • "Framed Photo" – displays a series of photos.
  • "GoogleGram" – creation of special daily messages.
  • "Daily Me" – displays user's current mood and feelings.
  • "Free Form" – allows the user to input text and an image of their choice.
  • "YouTube Channel" – displays videos from a YouTube channel.
  • "Personal List" – allows the user to create a list of items.
  • "Countdown" – countdown timer.
  • "Daily Literary Quote" – displays literature-related quotes served up by ModeRoom Press.

Some of the developer-made gadgets include:

  • "Meteo-si": displays the current weather and the weather forecast for selected area(s)
  • "Ebay gadget": searches for items on Ebay

Throughout 2009, iGoogle released a sidebar at the side of the home page which also altered the overall appearance of the iGoogle pages. It allows users of Gmail to chat from their homepage without going to gmail.com along with organising the iGoogle tabs vertically instead of horizontally along the top. The addition to this sidebar feature upset many users of iGoogle, many voicing their opinions in the Google Forums, as currently there is no way to opt-out of the change to the site design.

Themes

File:Igooglee.jpg
iGoogle with the Winter Scape theme.

With iGoogle, users can select unique themes for their Google homepages: some themes designed by Google itself and others by the userbase.

Artist themes

In April 2008, Google began offering a choice of themes by professional artists.[5]

Experimental iGoogle

On July 8, 2008, Google announced the beginning of a testing period for a new version of iGoogle which alters some features, including replacing the tabs with left navigation, adding chat functionality, and a canvas-view gadget for RSS.[6] Users were selected for this test and notified when they logged in by a link to a brief description and further links to forums. On the forums, it was explained[by whom?] that there was no opt-out, as a control for the test. Further, there was no information on how long the test would continue. Many expressed dissatisfaction with the new version and with the inability to opt-out.[7]

On October 16, 2008, Google announced the release of this new version of iGoogle and retired its older format. The release did not initially include the persistent chat widget. It does include the left navigation in place of tabs as well as a change to widget controls, however.[8] The stated purpose is to prepare for OpenSocial, with the new canvas view stated as playing an important role in that.[9] InformationWeek[10] reported "a vocal group of users" as unhappy with the changes, pointing out that many users do not want change forced on them, and that this is a general problem with cloud software under a service provider's control.

A workaround to restore the original tab layout was found by attaching "?gl=all" to the end of the iGoogle URL. On June 4, 2009, this workaround was eliminated. Within days, another workaround was discovered. Changing the URL ending to "?hl=all" would again restore the original tab layout, with some missing links across the top of the home page, including "Maps" and "more". This workaround was again eliminated on November 18, 2009. This led to an immediate resurrection of the controversy over user choice, both in the UK and world-wide, as many people unhappy with the new layout imposed on US users had switched to the UK Google site where the workarounds still worked. Within hours, the most frequently asked question on the help forum was how to restore the old layout, and there was a large number of feature suggestions to the same effect on the Google product ideas page. Other solutions have come to the fore, which require adds-ons, greasemonkey scripts or bookmarklets.[11]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Mills, Elinor (2007-05-01). "Welcome to iGoogle". ZDNet Australia. http://www.zdnet.com.au/news/software/soa/Welcome-to-iGoogle/0,130061733,339275160,00.htm. Retrieved 2009-09-28. "The search giant is renaming and adding new features to Google Personalized Home Page [...] iGoogle, as it will be called in a few hours, was the fastest growing product at the company last year [...]" 
  2. Gray, Jessica (10/18/2007). "iGoogle in 42 languages". http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2007/10/get-your-igoogle-in-42-languages.html. Retrieved 2008-03-19. 
  3. "Google Web Search Help Center". http://www.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=20505&topic=9002. Retrieved 2007-06-17. 
  4. Liedtke, Michael (April 30, 2007). "Google dubs personal home page 'iGoogle'". MSNBC. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18405212/. Retrieved 2008-07-25. 
  5. iGoogle Artist Themes
  6. Experimental iGoogle features
  7. Williams, Chris (1 September 2008), iGoogle personalises personal pages on other people's behalf, The Register, http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/09/01/google_personal_homepage_brouhaha/ 
  8. The New iGoogle, Publicly Launched, Thursday, October 16, 2008, http://googlesystem.blogspot.com/2008/10/new-igoogle-publicly-launched.html 
  9. Quist, Jake (October 16, 2008), Big Canvas, Big Opportunity, iGoogle Developer Blog, http://igoogledeveloper.blogspot.com/2008/10/big-canvas-big-opportunity.html 
  10. Claburn, Thomas (October 17, 2008). "iGoogle Users iRate About Portal's Changes". InformationWeek. http://www.informationweek.com/news/internet/google/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=211201740. Retrieved 2008-12-16. 
  11. Get Rid of Left Navigation in iGoogle, Thursday, October 16, 2008, http://www.mark8t.com/2009/11/18/get-rid-of-left-navigation-in-igoogle/ 

External links

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