Google is testing a new version of its home page that eliminates the controversial navigation bar that has sat atop its services for two years, the company said.
The version now being tested requires users to click a grid icon borrowed from Chrome OS for links to Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube, and other products. The design, which was first spotted by blog Google Operating System, appears to be in an early stage of testing -- screenshots show the grid icon includes a redundant link to Google search, even when accessed from the search page.
"We're always experimenting with the look and feel of our home page," a Google rep told CNET.
If it tests well, the grid would replace the prominent black bar that has served as the company's site navigation tool since 2011. The nav bar has always polarized design-minded users: Some like the unified look it brings to Google products, while others think the interface could be improved. Among those who think that: Google itself, which has eliminated the navigation bar in the past only to bring it back later.
In November 2011, Google moved its list of services into a drop-down menu that descended from the Google logo. But some users criticized the move for making those services harder to find, and the experiment was dropped six weeks later.
A similar criticism might be levied at the new design, which buries the services under an icon in exchange for a cleaner overall look. And with the company putting greater emphasis on Chrome OS this year than ever before, perhaps we shouldn't be surprised to see elements from the operating system migrating into more and more Google services.
The test hasn't shown up for us yet. For more pictures, check out Google Operating System.