[The] Premier of Taiwan was ordering an investigation into Apple’s Slide-to-Unlock” patent. I thought there was more to this story because getting the Premier of Taiwan to investigate a patent and making it so public in such a short time after the patent was granted, stunk. We later found out that Google’s Eric Schmidt was coming to Taiwan and was working with the government on a new project. Ahh, the stench has a name and it’s Google; in particular, Eric Schmidt. Schmidt made it clear that it was war on Apple’s products and they promised Android OEMs that they could use any of Google’s patents to wage war against Apple in court. #
So Google Reader was redesigned and its social features moved to Google+. I’ve been an avid user of Reader since their last redesign years back (also tried the first version, which was in a word: ’poop). I’ve made wide use of the sharing and commenting features every single day, so naturally this hits close to home. Now I’m not adverse to change; except when it’s executed with someone’s head up their own poophole. Let’s count the ways, shall we?
- All the people I was following I’m no longer following.
- All the people that were following me are no longer following me.
- All of my shares, are gone. Poof. Sure, you can export them as JSON… Yay… That’s… so helpful.
- No keyboard shortcuts for sharing. It used to be shift-S to share, shift-D to share with note. Now you have to click the (diminutive) +1 icon. Why? Because Google is dogfooding itself, and the +1 service doesn’t have an API that would let them write keyboard shortcuts, because… well… it doesn’t have API’s period. See also the platform manifesto.
- +1’ing an item doesn’t share it to your stream, you have to comment on it to do that.
- Sharing an item from a feed, in which the item’s link is not to the item itself, will share the item linked, not the feed item. Example: if you +1 one of John Gruber’s linked items, you won’t be sharing his commentary, which in turn means that your own comments won’t make a lick of sense. Nobody thought to test this? Are you kidding me?
- Instead of a stream of normal feeds and curated feeds (Reader), I now have a stream of feeds (Reader) and a stream of absolutely everything, think games, shares, tweets, check-ins, posts, cats, dogs… (Google+). Which means that the more people use Google+, the more noise will enter my stream. Gone is the clarity and purity of ‘one tool for one job’.
- Add to that, the Google+ stream is like the Twitter stream; you’re not really meant to digest everything in it. Which is opposite of how I consume my feed list and other people’s feed shares. I absolutely want to consume everything. It’s important to me! I used to have an unread count of unread shares and comments on those shares, in Reader for this exact purpose. No more.
Now I get progressive. I do. I’ll gladly tell people to sit down and shut up if they’re just being reactionary to change. But this isn’t just a matter of things being different, yet the same; it’s a matter of ill considered change for the worse, without thinking about what a tool is used for and what details makes it really good at that job.
An ex product manager of Google Reader doesn’t think the changeover was as smooth as perhaps it should have been.
I had a short discussion on Twitter this morning — I’d link to it, if Twitter had thread permalinks — sparked by Danielle’s tweet, in which she calls bullshit on Gawker’s article on the new Google Instant commercial, in which Ryan Tate (who has had a brush with Jobs earlier this year, and with whom I don’t agree in the slightest with regards to the iPad) asserts that regardless its intentions, this is one ad Steve Jobs will hate:
I’m with Ryan Tate on this. Not only is this ad unusual for Google, which even when it gets imaginative, is obviously an engineers club, not a poets society (with exceptions). And while the Google Instant commercial still sacrifices actual charm and humanity for a factual message — contrary to Think Different — since both companies operate in the tech industry, the very use of Dylan, intentionally or not, is absolutely comparable.
Think Different was a major milestone for Apple. Aside from building Apple’s current image, it marked Steve Jobs’ return and in many ways the start of what we now know as Apple. It was a campaign that was not only tremendously important to Apple as a company, but it was very personal to Steve Jobs:
But his well-known relationship with Bob Dylan goes way back, to well before his return to Apple. Here in the 2003 Rolling Stone interview:
Steve Wozniak turned me on to [Bob Dylan]. I was probably … oh … maybe 13, 14. We ended up meeting this guy who had every bootleg tape in the world. He was a guy that actually put out a newsletter on Bob Dylan. He was really into it — his whole life was about Bob Dylan. But he had the best bootlegs — even better stuff than you can get today that’s been released. He had amazing stuff. And so we had our room full of tapes of Bob Dylan that we copied. #
In fact, I think Steve Jobs probably sees a lot of himself in Dylan:
He was a very clear thinker, and he was a poet.
Or maybe that’s just me projecting… Either way, here’s the opening of the 1984 shareholders meeting where he first revealed the Macintosh:
Here’s Bob Dylan in an iPod commercial:
And the list goes on.
This isn’t about Dylan, and whether or not he’s willing to do commercials or not (Danielle brought up Victoria’s Secret and Pepsi as examples), this is about the iconography that he brings with him, when used in specific contexts.
Google’s commercials have most often been about the product. Whether it’s fast, secure, easy to use and so on. Google is a very fact-centric company, by heart. I love Google, but they have for a long time been an image-challenged company, and have only in recent years started to do commercials at all, let alone ones that convey more than facts.
Apple on the other hand is a counter-cultural company; radical in a way. For a long time that’s been the defining trait of Apple’s brand and the way Steve Jobs saw himself and his products in relation to the rest of the tech industry. And few companies, in particular a company like Google, are driven so much by the personality of the CEO as Apple has been.
And that’s why it tastes a little bit funny when another tech giant, in direct competition with Apple, puts out a — for them — atypical commercial using imagery, which filtered through a post-Think Different world, will always be associated with Apple and Steve Jobs (the two being virtually inseparable).
Whether the radical counter-cultural underdog image is still sticking to Apple these days, is another discussion entirely, but to put it in context, Google using black and white Bob Dylan imagery is a little like 1980’s Coke using Michael Jackson.
It would be a lot of things. A coincidence wouldn’t be one of them.
I love me some Chrome, let there be no doubt about that. On Windows it’s my browser of choice, no contest, and on OS X it’s getting to a point where it’s usable as a default browser. But, there is one thing that is really grating me on OS X.
That’s Chrome’s 100 vertical picels toolbar highrise vs. Safari’s lean 72px. Even with its bookmark bar folded, Chrome is taller than Safari…
28 paltry pixels don’t seem like a whole lot, but considering that all of Google’s web apps also take up at least 25px at the top for links to other Google apps, sign out, help and settings links… Well my 13.3” MacBook Pro’s screen is starting to feel vertically challenged.
I actually ahppen to love Chrome’s ‘oversized’ address bar and on-top tabs, but something’s gotta give.
Update: After some discussion below, it should be noted that Safari actually exceeds Chrome in vertical… eh… chrome pixels if you also turn on the status- and tab-bars.
We were seated far, far away from our friends at the Depeche Mode concert (the sound was atrocious where we were seated, so I can’t honestly say if it was a ‘good’ concert, though it seemed pretty rockin’ down on the ground) this tuesday, and as we idled away, waiting for the old geezers to take the stage, we spent the time messaging each other, trying to get a visual in-amongst the thousands of people, because… Well, there wasn’t a lot else to do.
It struck me next day, that all we had to do was use Google Maps in our phones to send our locations to each other, and we would have saved ourselves the trouble. It wouldn’t have whiled away the time, but it would’ve been cool.
Consider; no more walking around searching for someone at the beach, in the park, at the concert, at that back-alley café, downtown club. They send you their location, bingo. Map, compass and directions always at the ready. It didn’t hit me until just then, but that’s a pretty wicked application of everyday information-age tech.
At work, where I’m forced to use Windows Vista, I use Google Chrome exclusively. And a thing I’ve grown to love about Chrome, is how it handles moving tabs, which is slightly different—and better—from Safari 4b, which I use at home.
In Safari, you grab the small lined area at the top left of a tab to start dragging, something introduced with Safari 4, where before the entire tab was draggable. Once you start dragging, the semi-transparent tab follows your mouse arround until you let go of it, whereupon it either integrates itself into a row of tabs or into a new window. Most annoyingly, Exposé doesn’t work while dragging tabs.
In Chrome, you can initiate dragging anywhere on the tab, and if the tab is the last remaining member of a window, that window will disappear when you start dragging. This allows you to move a tab into a window behind the current, without first rearranging windows; quite nice in Windows’ maxmized windows regime.
Dear Apple: Please steal some of these interface tricks for Safari.
PS: I would switch to Chrome on OS X in an instant, if I could; extensions or no.
What a move! I’m not only surprised, but possibly even converted. Though, there will of course be no Chrome love for us OS X folk for a while yet.
For the past year or so I’ve been using Safari fulltime on OS X and Firefox on Windows, and quite honestly I loved every minute of it. Safari is fast, compliant++
Now it’s true that many of the things Google were touting as ‘new’ have in fact been around for a while in the browser-market, and them pitching on-top tabs, the omnibar and privacy browsing (for buying presents apparently…) comes off a bit: “Ehm, have you seen these other browsers?”. But despite that, Google deserves a lot of credit for what they’ve done. Having all the money in the known world, doesn’t make a new browser a done deal.
Ask Steve Ballmer, he’ll shout it to you in one-word sentences.
And not only have they overcome whatever byzantine tar-hole IE is stuck in, but their first beta both feels like it is right on the cusp of being production-ready and is actually better in some areas than all the other browsers out there already! A remarkable feat, especially given that Microsoft is on their eight try, and they get worse and worse at it. Hell, even Apple’s attempt at porting Safari feels half-hearted. Though, fair enough, let’s wait and see what happens with Chrome on OS X before we pass final judgement on that account.
I know you haven’t been able to wade through your feed reader for the past few days without reading about Chrome and Palin (what happened there!?), but I’m going to have a closer look with or without you, so…
First up, putting the tabs up top is something Opera has already done; but if we can all just look each other in the eyes, I think the consensus will be that for whatever reasons, Opera simply isn’t a particularly desirable browser. Luckily Chrome, despite bearing a—admittedly slightly remote—semblance to their usual Jakob Nielsen-esque interface aesthetics, has clean enough lines to not make a mess of itself and is also neutral enough in its colors and icon-design to not stand out like a [something ridiculous] at a [oddball convention].
This was not the work of the person resonsible for Google Video#, let me tell you.
In fact, their logo is the most garish thing in the whole package, having been compared many times over to a Pokémon ball; and rightly so I might add. Why they couldn’t just give us a globe of some sort, I’ll never know. But when I’m getting Chrome on OS X, I’m changing that icon so fast it’ll make my head spin.
There has been some complaints that the contents of the
<title> tag is getting a little screwed by the tab-treatment, but considering the alternatives—having the title of the current page appear in full at the top of the window or widen the tabs either in full or IE-style, neither of which are worth having—I think it’s a good compromise. Any anyway, most website titles are too long as it is and should make better use of the space as it is
The icons on the toolbar are comfortingly low-key and gender-neutral, bordering on elegant even. In fact, it is wonderful how the ‘home’ icon seems to be a bygone thing these days. I’ve always found the ‘home page to be pretty useless anyway. The star is nice; I would probably have preferred a plus-sign though. I know ‘star’ has been the icon for ‘favorites’ since Windows 95 or some such, but it just never hit home with me. Safari’s + says ‘add’, what does ‘star’ say?
The address bar, or the omnibar as it is called, highlights the domain, which as someone pointed out works as a mini-anti-phishing feature of sorts, so as to make paypal.gimmetehcash.com stand out to passing eyes. But even better—in stark opposition to Firefox 3’s ‘awesomebar’—it reads really well! Try the two side by side for a moment, and see for yourself just how much difference a little attention to colors and layout can make for usability. At the time of writing this, I can’t say for sure whether it actually works better, or if the cosmetics are making all the difference.
But I applaud them having thrown out the search box. It’s about time someone did this! Aside from Safari (come on!), all browsers search for what you write in the addressbar anyway. Getting rid of it is a favor to everyone.
I wouldn’t mind seeing some cleanup in the two dropdown menus on the right of the omnibar, not only in their structure, but in the settings windows as well. Try finding the ‘change language’ settings; it’s considerably harder than it ought to be, especially when you only have two dropdowns to deal with. On OS X, I hope they move them into the OS menubar.
Like with Safari, I run Chrome without the bookmarks bar visible—I like my window as clean as possible. However, the trick with Safari, is that ?-1 through ?-9, will launch the bookmark in the position corresponding to that number, from the left in the bookmark bar, not counting folders (in Firefox, this selects the corresponding tab instead).
I have become addicted to this behavior.
I’ve got my mail, feed reader, calendar, this site and the Tumblr bookmarklet (for Heilemannr) all programmed into my muscle memory, and I use it constantly. Where some of my friends have announced that they are unable to switch until Adblock comes to Chrome (First of all: Bah! Secondly, an API is coming according to Google), this is probably what I’ll miss the most.
With Chrome’s ‘home’ page being your bookmarks, your most visited pages and some other stuff I’ll never use, this isn’t quite as catastrophic as it could have been, and if nothing else, the bookmarks bar is dis- and enabled with CTRL-B, which is fairly easy to live with.
And finally, the status bar isn’t. Finally. I’ve wanted this from Safari for ages. After all, I don’t want to be without my status bar, so I can see what’s going on. But on the other hand, it takes up valuable vertical space, even when it isn’t in use.
I don’t know much about webkit, other than the fact that it powers Safari (and others), but as far as I’m concerned, Safari has been leading the rendering race for some time now, and Chrome adopting webkit can only be a good thing. At the end of the day, I’m just happy that they’re beating the crap out of Microsoft, who really need the wake-up call, and they’re doing it while wanting to cooperate with the other browser-makers (or at least saying so for now), which is an indication that we might be able to not having to spend the next decade in yet another meaningless browser war.
As for the interface, I think I’m in love.
It’s simple, intuitive and free of needless frills, which is exactly what I want from my browser. And it’s really quite an accomplishment to lure me away from my beloved Safari, but Chrome has a good chance of doing just that. And this is the first beta.
The first beta!
Now there’s just the fact that Google not only hosts my mail, my feeds, my calendar, some of my videos, my search history and a load of other things, but now it’ll basically have access to my everything I do online?
But then, when they already have access to all of the above things, it can’t get much worse, can it?
That’s the spirit.
Rikke and I both use Google Reader and its share items freely, not only with each other, but in my case also with the general public. As it turns out, the new ‘Friend’s Shared Items’ is being scorned by a range of people, one of who even goes so far as to say it has ‘RUINED CHRISTMAS’ for him and his family.
The problem arises when items are shared using under the new feature, they automatically become available to any of your gmail contacts who are also Google Reader users. And there is no way to disable the new feature, or indeed manage the contacts that can make use of it.
Give me a break.
I have no delusions of being able to turn the tide on this trend. But since it was brought home to me in extraordinary fashion in the past few months, just how reactionary people become when they’re given the channels to do so, at least I can raise a flag of dissent, and hope to be heard.
Gruber doesn’t think it’s a good idea to turn Google Reader into ‘a sort social site’. I disagree. I make good use of it, and while being able to manage who of your contacts are able to follow your shares, or the simpler solution, being able to turn off the feature entirely, is of course a needed option.
But you have to be something of a nincompoop, to point your finger at Google for ruining Christmas, when the real problem in fact, is hiding your true colors behind white lies and hopes of ignorance, lacking the courage of your your own convictions.
Or, you simply fail to understand, that on the intarwebs, nothing remains secret forever.
Security through obscurity.
Lo and behold, they fixed it.
I love your work. Love it! Between Gmail, Google Reader, Google Calendar and Google Code, I find the majority of my digital existence in your capable hands. And I honestly don’t see that changing any time soon.
The update of Gmail that is currently being rolled out is also pretty cool. Chat in Safari? Cool. That’ll come in handy at some point, I’m sure.
But, I’m wondering if any of your team members use Safari on a daily basis? Probably not, as it seems some of the more basic features have been left behind. No longer does Gmail auto-suggest the full names and addresses when you type in the ‘To:’ field.
This is, horrendous!
I would trade you back the chat feature in the blink of an eye if it would bring back the name-suggest. It’s the single most used feature when sending mail, and it’s broken…
The alternative is going to ‘Contacts’ and looking up the person manually. A temporarily viable alternative, if it wasn’t for the fact that the Contacts page is even more broken! And you think it can’t get any worse, right? Then you resize the page.
Seriously Google? You couldn’t wait a week or two and get these things under control?
Thoughtfully, you included the means of using an older version which works as advertised. None too pleased, I guess I’ll have to stick with that for now, even if it doesn’t save my choice in a cookie for future use.
Steven Frank on Google’s Android:
A 34-company committee couldn’t create a successful ham sandwich, much less a mobile application suite. [...] For heaven’s sake: Find someone, ONE person, with a unique vision. Lock them in a room with some programmers and a graphic designer. Twenty people, tops. Change the world. Quit re-hashing the same old bullshit and telling me it’s new, exciting, or in any way innovative. #
Most of the keyboard shortcuts were previously available with the Gmail Macro Greasemonkey scripts (or through the Better GMail extension which weâ€™ve reviewed before), but now even users without Greasemonkey can use the shortcuts. #
Hallelujah! Bring it on!
For now the changes will be limited to Firefox 2 and Internet Explorer 7 users, though Google will be adding additional browser support as time goes on.
Boo! Hiss! Can we please get some love for Safari? Firefox on OS X is slow as molasses!
Have you seen the recently redesigned Google Images? Apparently in an effort to make it more clean or something, they decided to only show resolution information on mouseover…
What were they thinking? Resolution is what I use the most when I use Google Images! So I figured I’d split it open and see if I couldn’t fix it with a quick CSS file or something…
I have no words. Much like the Matrix, no one can be told what that code resembles… Best you take a look for yourself.
Since its enthusiastic adoption a year and a half ago, by Google, Six Apart, Wordpress, and of course the eminent Dave Winer, I think we can all agree that nofollow has done … nothing. Comment spam? Thicker than ever. It’s had absolutely no effect on the volume of spam. That’s probably because comment spammers don’t give a crap, because the marginal cost of spamming is so low. Also, nofollow-tagged links are still links, which means that humans can still click on them–and if humans can click, there’s a chance somebody might visit the linked sites after all.
I of course hate being the obnoxious asshole shouting ‘I fucking told you so!’ (that’s not true), still… I told you so.