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Google Kills the Google Bar it Never Launched – Just Tweaks the Old Black Navigation Bar Instead

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Late last year, Google announced a new design for the navigation menu that sits at the top of virtually every Google product. A gray Google Bar with a drop-down menu hidden in the Google logo (the Google Menu) was supposed to replace the black bar, but that update never quite arrived. A few people saw the gray Google Bar now and then, but it was never rolled out consistently. Now we know why. Google just announced that it has gone back to the drawing board after it realized that "there were some elements of the new bar that we could improve."

Gone is the drop-down menu – which, when I had access to the gray bar for a while was indeed a user interface nightmare. Instead, Google is keeping the black navigation bar and is basically keeping the current design in place. What it will roll out to all users, though, is the unified search box and the Google+ sharing and notifications feature.

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When Google announced the new design, there was no indication that this would be a very slow rollout and even when I asked Google about an update a few weeks ago, the company told me that it planned to roll the Google bar and menu out to all users "in the coming weeks." In a sense, I guess, that was true – though it's quite different Google bar the company is rolling out now.

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3:26 pm


Google Retires its Black Navigation Bar: Say Hello to the Google Bar

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The black navigation bar that has been gracing the top of most Google products for the last few month is about to be retired. Google plans to replace it with a search box and even more prominent Google+ notifications and sharing tools. Users will now have to hover over the Google logo to use what the company calls the new “Google Menu” to switch between Gmail, Google+ or Google Maps, among others. These changes will roll out over the next few days.

Here is Google’s official announcement video:

How Exactly is this Easier?

According to Google, its designers goal was to “create a beautifully simple and intuitive user experience across Google.” While the new drop down menu may make sense for Google, as it gives it far more real estate to highlight its services than the old black bar, it’s not quite clear to me how this makes life easier for users. Having to hover over the logo, wait for the menu to open and then switch between services seems a bit more involved than just clicking on a link in the top navigation bar. Google says that it still just takes one click to get to all of its services. While this is technically correct (the menu opens when you hover over the logo, after all), this still seems to be far more involved than necessary, especially for those who just want to jump between their email, calendar and maybe Google+.

It will likely take a bit to get used to this new navigation paradigm for Google’s services. Chances are, of course, that those who prefer the old way will soon be able to install a Chrome plugin or Firefox addon that will bring the old functionality back.

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12:32 am