Goodbye Google Custom Home Pages With Personal Backgrounds

google-home-page-custom Over two years ago, Google enabled users to customize the Google home page with their own image or graphics from a library of images. But now that feature is going away. This is coming to a surprise for many Google users because Google quietly announced this news late on a Friday afternoon saying: Classic Plus is a Google Search feature that lets people upload or select images to use as a background on Users won’t be able to upload new pictures starting from October 16, and we'll turn the service off in November 2012. You'll continue to have access to any images you've [...]

Google To Discontinue iGoogle, Once Google’s Fastest Growing Product

Google announced they are shutting down several products as part of their "summer spring cleaning" efforts. One of those products is iGoogle, once known to be Google's faster growing product. In fact, iGoogle at one point accounted for 20% of all visits to Google's homepage! Now, Google decides to kill it off on November 1, 2013. Why? Google said since the web and mobile are changing, and "with modern apps that run on platforms like Chrome and Android, the need for iGoogle has eroded over time." Google is giving iGoogle users 16 months to learn to use something else. Google is als [...]

Angstro Buy, Shopping, Gaming Investments Point To Multi-Pronged Google Social Strategy

Last week Google acquired Angstro. The site has been described as a way to discover and organize information about individuals across various professional networks. Here's how Angstro describes itself: Ångströ represents the ability to hone in on highly focused, relevant news across professional networks. Where search engines such as Google and other news aggregator services have immense infrastructures that return a huge array of random results, Ångströ analyses a wide breadth of information from multiple data sources to deliver very few, yet very intelligent results. The pundit consens [...]

Google Home Page: Now Featuring Your Pictures

Bing's received plenty of praise for its home page that shows a different picture each day. How long until Google would copy it, some have wondered. Today, almost exactly a year since Bing launched, Google has rolled out its own feature that lets you put a picture on the Google home page. In a blog post today, Google announced anyone can upload a picture that will be shown on the Google home page. You'll only see your own picture, of course -- everyone else will see pictures they've selected, if they're using this option. You can also use pictures you've uploaded to Google's Picasa photo sh [...]

Google Broadening Wave Access With GMail-Like Rollout

As we previously reported, starting tomorrow Google will widen access to its innovative communications platform Wave, offering 100,000 new invitations to use the service. Many of these people in turn will be allowed to invite others to join as well, reminiscent of how GMail propagated. (It's wise for Google to allow these new users to invite friends and family because you effectively can't use Wave without contacts on the system.) Those who will gain full access tomorrow will apparently be developers, early users who provided feedback and some Google Apps customers. My earlier blog post pro [...]

Google Expanding Access To Wave Soon, First “Hands-On” Impressions

At the end of next month, September 30, Google will expand the current "developer preview" of Google Wave to roughly 100,000 consumer users. According to Google, "included in this group of early testers will be some of the businesses using Google Apps." In anticipation of this wider release, Danny and I got some time with Lars Rasmussen and the rest of the Google Wave team the other day. By way of background, Danny and I wrote about Wave when it was first announced earlier this year and then offered some third-party developer observations. Without doing a full "review," I'll offer [...]

Google Rolls Out Social Gadgets Quickly

Last week we first wrote about social gadgets rolling out in Australia. Marissa Mayer, whom I spoke with at the time, said the timing of a broader rollout was uncertain. Well it's here today: Your friends are able to see what you share or do in your social gadgets either by having the same gadgets on their homepages, or through a new feed called Updates. Updates can include your recently shared photo albums, your favorite comics strips, your travel plans for the weekend and more. To help you manage who you are sharing with, we've created a Friends group. You can add and edit friends in this g [...]

Marissa Mayer On iGoogle’s New “Social Gadgets”

This morning Google is rolling out a program in Australia enabling developers to create "social gadgets" that permit sharing, collaboration and groups on the iGoogle homepage. The social gadgets will come to the US and other markets in the future, but the timing is undetermined. I spoke yesterday with Google's Marissa Mayer about the new initiative, built on the Open Social platform. At the outset there are apparently 12 social gadgets, eight of which were created by third party developers. For example, there's a chess gadget and other casual game gadgets -- casual games have become huge on [...]

Yet Another Mobile iGoogle For iPhones & Android

The Google Mobile Blog announced yet another shot at an optimized version of iGoogle for iPhone and Android devices. About six months ago, Google quietly dropped the iPhone optimized iGoogle, before that, they had an optimized version since January 2008. After living without an iPhone/Android version of iGoogle for about six months, Google came out with a nice look for the new iGoogle mobile. Here is a look at it: To try this out on your iPhone or Android device, go to to in your mobile browser and tap "Try the new Mobile iGoogle!" Further coverage of this story at T [...]

Google Quietly Drops iPhone Optimized iGoogle Page

I reported this morning at the Search Engine Roundtable that Google seems to have quietly dropped the iPhone version of the iGoogle page. The iPhone iGoogle page used to be at, but when iPhone users navigate to they are redirected to the standard mobile iGoogle page at Google said the reason they dropped the iPhone version was because they "want to ensure you'll all see the same version" of the iGoogle mobile page. But Google made no official announcement on this change. I found this by viewing a thread where it seems like hundreds of iPhon [...]

iGoogle Now Supports Full Canvas Views

The new iGoogle theme just launched, which adds "full canvas views for gadget and support for full feed reading." In short, the new view places the tabs that you typically see at the top, under the search box, now on the left hand side. It then allows you to add gadgets that support canvas view, to the new iGoogle look, which gives some gadgets a higher usability factor. Let me illustrate below: Here is a before screen capture: Here is an after screen capture (I don't personally see the new iGoogle, so thank you Keri for sending this my way): As you can see, it opens up the p [...]

Test The New iGoogle, Google’s Personalized Home Page

Google Operating System reported that Google said they are launching the new iGoogle design, named "canvas view," to a limited set of users. What is new in this version and design? Left-hand navigation with expandable tabs A canvas view for Google Gadgets, kind of looks like a Google Reader view (screen cap here) Google Chat added to iGoogle Those are the major changes. To read about them in more detail, see this Google document. [...]

Google Opens Developer “Sandbox” For iGoogle

iGoogle is one of the most interesting products at the search engine. Reportedly the fastest growing of Google's offerings, it's a personal start page or dashboard, but with potential to evolve into something more. Today Google announced "a sandbox for developers that helps them build richer gadgets for iGoogle, which will offer users more powerful and interactive features..." The announcement also says, "iGoogle's new features will include left navigation, a maximized or "canvas view" option for gadgets, and social features for gadgets using the OpenSocial APIs. These social features for g [...]

Google Webmaster Tools: Now On Your iGoogle Homepage

Google's Webmaster Central is giving you a new way to access the diagnostics and stats for your sites. Rather than log into your Webmaster Tools account, you can add the Webmaster Tools gadget to your iGoogle page and access information from there. You can choose what components to display on your iGoogle page. Below are details about what components are available and when each was initially launched as part of webmaster tools. Available Webmaster Tools Components for iGoogle Crawl errors: the number of each type of crawl error Google found on the site (with links to the individual URLs [...]

Customizing Your Search With

Don't like the backgrounds available on No problem. Now you can upload any image you want. For instance, maybe you'd like this one! The new background feature is part of the skinning ability launched as part of Ask3D last year. The other engines offer some customization features as well. You can upload your own image and create themes with iGoogle. While iGoogle's feature is more versatile (as the documentation says, "This makes it easy to create a story that unfolds throughout the day, landscapes that change as the sun rises and sets, and abstract images that become more comple [...]

Tracking Santa: NORAD & Google Team Up For Christmas

Every year, I enjoy helping my kids track the approach of Santa Claus through the NORAD site, as I've written about before. This year, Google's getting in on the action. You'll be able to track Santa in Google Earth on Christmas Eve with the help of a special file. You can also download a countdown for your iGoogle home page that Google offers here. NOTE: For the latest news on 2012 Santa tracking, see our post: Where’s Santa Claus? The 2012 Santa Tracker List, From NORAD To Google, From The Web To Apps Didn't Google already partner with NORAD on tracking Santa last year? Unofficia [...]

Inbox 2.0: Vision And Perhaps Confusion At Google And Yahoo

A much discussed blog posting this morning comes from Saul Hansell at the New York Times, who spoke to both Google and Yahoo about their plans to turn their email products into social networks, in a manner of speaking: "Inbox 2.0." The plans discussed in the post suggest some clever and creative thinking about how both companies can leverage their existing products and integrate them with other properties. But people at both companies also seem to be in a kind of frenzy, which may turn out to be unjustified in the long run, over how to compete with Facebook. Here's what Hansell says about Go [...]

iGoogle Gets New Themes; Google China Gets New Home Page

Google has added five new themes to iGoogle. Google Blogoscoped and Google Operating System both have posts on the new themes, which include a Solar System theme, an Autumn theme, a Hong Kong theme, a JR The Monster theme, and an Aja Tiger theme. Google China is also testing out a new home page according to Google Blogoscoped. You can see the new home page at this special Google China URL right now. It differs from the current live design by adding a more "portal like" interface. Here is the normal Google China page: Compare that to this test version of the Google China page: Very [...]

New Feed Subscriber Stats & User Interface For Google Webmaster Central

Google Webmaster Central has gone live with a new "subscriber stats" area showing statistics of how many people read your feeds through the iGoogle personalized home page and Google Reader, as well as a new look and user interface for GWC. Below, more about both, as well as issues for those tracking feeds through services such as FeedBurner. I like the new look, and Google says it is designed to better group similar tools and reports together. Here's the overview page: Off to the left, you can see a box with the five main groupings of tools and reports: Diagnostics Statistics Li [...]

Google Now Reporting Number Of Users Per Gadget

Got a Google Gadget? Google's now reporting how many users make use of it, in addition to the pageviews figures it started posting earlier this year. The new user stats can be found via Google's Homepage Content Directory. There you'll see gadgets that can be added to your iGoogle personalized homepage, with the number of users shown directly under the gadget's name, as can be seen highlighted in the screenshot below: Click through to the gadget's home page, and you'll get both users and pageviews, such as shown below: Users are the number of logged-in Google users making use of th [...]

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