Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Google: Annoying and not so annoying recent changes

The new "Social" search!

Google has long become a synonym for search... "Google it!" is something we often say and do a number of times every day/hour. And I've been doing the same for last 8 years and was able to find useful result with ease. But recently something went wrong, terribly wrong... there was no relevant result on Google even while looking to as much as "Page 3"... I'm convinced that in normal use, no one ever has to go beyond "Page 1" and I believe what I was searching was a normal query (tried all sorts of permutations and combinations of keywords and their synonyms). A normal question on php related stuff... but all I got was frustation with results displaying how to do those things in Android or Javascript or dont know what. The question then arise is why it was showing such results?

Well, the answer to that is trivial. Because, for last couple of months I have been doing search for results related to Android and Javascript while I was working on couple of projects. And now even when I'm searching with keyword "php"... results shows up Android and Javascript fixes... all thanks to tracking my search history and intelligent guessing made on my queries.

Secondly, if you are frequently selecting a couple of sites from search results the next time you search, these sites get higher preference even though they may not have relevant information for the search you made. What was the problem with the plain old search that provided the results irrespective of my interaction but depending upon the content? Why so much emphasis on making everything social? And if the same site (for example Stack Overflow) has more than one relevant result, why not show them at the first place rather than a small hyperlink saying "Get more discussion results"?

And call it a coincidence, I just happened to find this article (Introducing the New Bing: Spend Less Time Searching, More Time Doing) via codeproject newsletter which made me seriously think considering a change to Bing! (at least they are keeping social separate from normal search).

Location specific customization... grrr....

Another annoying thing happening lately is Google tracking my location and changing my default from Google.com to Google.ch even after I made Google.com as default search engine in Chrome (yes, a Google product). Even my Blog preview is in German (I suppose) though my blog interface where I'm composing this is in English. Com'on Google, if I'm in Switzerland does not mean I can read German or French. So why change to something else from what I had been using for so-so long? Why?

The missing simplicity of old Google interfaces!

Change some Settings:

A couple of days back, the time-zone settings for my GMail changed by itself and then I had to "Google It" to find how to restore it. The simple interface of Google that made me like it so much (over Yahoo & Hotmail) is getting cluttered day-by-day. For simple setting like timezone for my email, I had to do about 10 clicks on 4 or 5 different screens (for the actual process, ignoring the wrong ones I made).

New GMail Interface:

Anyone with comments on new GMail interface? Sorry to say, the old one was much better without requiring me to scroll separately in each sub frames or do a tradeoff between seeing more options for mail (labels) or making my chat list longer.

New Blogger Interface:

I tried the new blogger interface and within minutes was back to the older version... and praying that it stays longer and am not forced to change to new one!

But not all is BAD... There are a couple of welcome changes/ updates

Google Play!

Finally, better late than never! Now its much easier to browse and choose apps for effortless installation not only for my Android, but more importantly for my father's android sitting miles away from him  (all I need is to log-in through his account). Just loved it! Not to say, a fairly neat and intuitive interface as well.
Do I expect Chrome store to merge with this, well it sounds like a possibility to me!

Google +

Well I would simply say Google has got this one way better compared to the new timeline interface on Facebook (where again I'm sticking with the old profile page and hoping they dont force me to change anytime soon, scare about people getting access to all the old posts with one click unless I spend some hours choosing what to keep public and what private and hate those ugly name labels on friends' display pics).
Sadly, Google+ is not catching up... people not willing to migrate from Facebook or are simply too tired to make yet another social network profile or have made it (like myself) but do not actively maintain it like the old Orkut profile.