I’ve been using iGoogle for a few months now and, until now, really liked it a lot. iGoogle, if you don’t know, is basically Google’s answer to Yahoo’s front page – it groups a whole bunch of stuff together for you – news, traffic, weather, mail, whatever you want, basically, as you can choose exactly what appears on the page. And then yesterday happened, when Google decided to mess with a good thing and, without warning, implement a bunch of unneeded, unwanted, and highly annoying changes. Before, it was a nice wide layout, where each pane of Google’s “gadgets” had plenty of room to be fully visible, but after yesterday, when they added a column on the left solely dedicated to some superfluous tabs, that layout got completely screwed up. And the tabs do nothing, by the way – they simply link to content that was already easily accessible. What Google tried to do is build everything into one big pane that the tabs would expand into, but it is completely unnecessary. The interface was perfect because it was what WE made it. Now I’ve lost control of it.
Worse, however, is what happened to Gmail within iGoogle. Before, clicking on the Gmail widget would take you directly into Gmail. Perfect – this never crossed my mind as a problem. It did to someone at Google, however, as now it opens a hobbled version of Gmail which doesn’t have any of the controls that the full Gmail has – no contacts, no folders, but most annoying, no formatting tools! Can you imagine that? You can’t even italicize a damned word in the iGoogled Gmail (“iGmail” from here on out)! For that you have to open the full Gmail, away from iGoogle, to get all the tools you’re used to having access to. What kind of damned sense does this make? But wait, there’s more – and this is just incredible: there are no links in iGmail. You read it right: if there’s a link, it’s just text. We’re back to ancient Outlook Express here. Copy and paste that puppy because iGmail ain’t going to open it. I am actually shaking my fists here in frustration just thinking about it. I will say it again: What kind of damned sense does this make?!
Of course, over on the Google Blog, it looks all rosy and fun, but try using the damned thing. It’s truly awful. At least there’s a link to send an email for feedback. You can bet I’ve already said my piece – twice.
Update: I’m trying out Netvibes in lieu of the awful new iGoogle. So far, so good. I don’t know if I like the Gmail integration so much, but it seems a lot more flexible in general than iGoogle.