Friday, May 20, 2005

Wow, a Sucky Google Product 

I thought the idea of Google Personal was pretty neat. While Yahoo and other portal sites create these cluttered monstrosities filled with ads, the idea of being able to put a bunch of useful stuff on my homepage is appealing. Google did launch this so that it is simple and free of ads, which I do appreciate very much. Similarly, the easy, dynamic configuration is simply awesome, and does things I didn't know web pages could do. Finally, the fact that they are leaving their regular www.google.com homepage as simple as it was before (instead of trying to sell everyone on it and cluttering it up), is the absolute right thing to do.

However, most of their content offerings are kinda lame. I do like the weather and maps (though it only lets you do driving directions), but Slashdot? Come on. In fact, most of the things you can add on there are kinda sorry: Wired News, Quote of the Day, and only 12 items over all. If you go on over to My Yahoo the number of options they offer for your personal homepage makes Google look pathetic: sports scores, TV listings, comics, many more news items, and so forth. Making Google look as cluttered as Yahoo is against the whole purpose, but if you're gonna make this thing, you need more options than what they're offering.

The whole thing is even lamer at another level, though. In order to use Google Personal, you need to be logged into your Gmail account, even if you don't want it to show you your email inbox when you go to your homepage. Since there's no difference between being logged into Google Personal and Gmail, it means that in order for it to even function, you've got to leave your Gmail account logged in at all times! This is a terrible idea, and it's totally unnecessary. We have proof by existence (Amazon, for example), that a web site can remember who you are and your personal settings without you actually having to be logged into your account. Having to log into your homepage is stupid, and leaving your Google account logged in is a horrible thing to encourage from a security perspective, so I simply cannot believe Google Personal functions this way.

I know it's beta, and I'm sure it'll get better with time, since Google is very good about revising this stuff. But being beta at Google is pretty much meaningless, and everyone knows it. This is the most underwhelming major release in ages.
I'm always logged into Gmail. What's so bad about that? It's really no different than any other mailing program. Imagine what a pain in the ass outlook would be if you had to enter in your password each time you opened it. If Gmail is your primary mail, there's absolutely no reason why you shouldn't be logged into it constantly.

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