April 30, 2007 3:09 PM PDT

Revamped Google tools let you be you

Revamped Google tools let you be you
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MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.--Google wants you to express yourself.

The search giant is renaming and adding new features to Google Personalized Home Page, a product team said during a briefing with the media at company headquarters here on Monday.

In an effort to clarify Google's strategy on customization, the company is changing the name of its Personalized Home Page product to iGoogle and announcing new features that were set to go live Tuesday after midnight PDT. The personalization product allows people to create a customized portal with news, blog postings and other interactive information modules called "gadgets" for things like the local weather and--the most popular--the day and time. More than 25,000 gadgets have been created.

iGoogle, as it will be called as of Tuesday morning, was the fastest-growing product at the company last year, said Marissa Mayer, vice president of search products and user experience at Google. Personalization is "one of the biggest advances we've made."

Among the enhancements, Google is announcing a new Gadget Maker feature that will let people create their own gadgets with their own content without having to know code or HTML. There are seven templates of gadgets that people can create and share with others: Framed Photo for creating and updating photos; GoogleGram, an unfolding "greeting card" gadget that shows different messages and images over seven days; Daily Me, which lets people share snippets about their daily lives like a miniblog, such as how they are feeling or what they are thinking or doing; a YouTube gadget for a favorite video clip; Free Form, which is simply any text and image; Personal List, of things like favorite songs; and Countdown, for counting down days to events.

The company also is announcing a new area on the gadget directory called My Community that will let people share the gadgets they've created with anyone in their Gmail contacts list.

Google also is expanding iGoogle globally to new languages and countries, reaching 26 languages and more than 40 countries, and launching themes for iGoogle users located outside the United States. "I think that themes will be an area in which we will continue to invest resources because they delight people," said iGoogle Product Manager Jessica Ewing. One concept the team is working on is creating themes that simulate specific artists. For instance, a French version of iGoogle could feature an image of brushstrokes from Monet's haystack paintings.

In addition, Google is launching location-based personalized search results so users who have provided a default location in Google Maps will see results based on that location.

Earlier this month, Google launched Queryless Search, which lets people include on their toolbar a button that provides pages the system thinks the user might be interested in. Google also launched a "recommendations" tab on the home page that offers up searches, pages, groups and videos that might be of interest to the individual.

I'm an eclectic person but everybody is," said Sep Kamvar, technical lead of personalization. "We can't just go about designing products for the average person."

There are no ads on iGoogle now, but Mayer wouldn't make any promises about the future. "I think of gadgets themselves as a unique and neat form of personalized advertising," she said. "Like our text ads, they are more useful and more relevant."

Google is working to not only make it easy for people to create customized home pages with colorful and fun gadgets but also to make it even easier to use Web search when trying to get to information, Mayer said. Eventually, 15 years out or so, Google wants to know enough about you that you don't have to type in long keyword queries.

For example, "when you type things into the search box it basically augments your query," she said. "If I type 'broadway shows' into Google, it would actually come back and understand that I like musicals and (prefer) peppy to sad...on the whole that's what we're really shooting for."

See more CNET content tagged:
iGoogle, gadget, Google Inc., home page, theme


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Translation of Mayer's Comment
[For example] "when you type things into the search box it basically augments your query," she said. "If I type 'hi! what's my Social Security Number and American Express card number?' into Google, it would actually come back and understand that I forgot those silly details and [prefer] peppy to sad to provide you with what you need...on the whole that's what we're really shooting for here at Google - to do no evil and be your humble personal information servant."

Posted by i_made_this (302 comments )
Reply Link Flag
So, will Apple claim they own the name iGoogle because it starts with i ?
Posted by gggg sssss (2285 comments )
Reply Link Flag
In that case
they could claim the iNTERNET
Posted by t8 (3716 comments )
Link Flag
So, will Apple claim they own the name iGoogle because it starts with i ?
Posted by gggg sssss (2285 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Windows Live's clone...
after Microsoft started the project 4 years ago......

Don't be evil =]
Is already missing
Posted by Kenny Yeung (25 comments )
Reply Link Flag
i smell copyright...
iGoogle? Looks like iApple would have a thought or two about that
Posted by dondarko (261 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Another "personal page"?
I have several personal pages at each: AOL,MSN,Yahoo,Blogspot,Comcast and MySpace. Plus a few odd pages that I do not have time for now. How many does Google think anybody should have? One- from Google?! Google has trouble handling their present advertising programs- why ask for more trouble by increasing the number of pages to run those ads on?
Posted by bobbydi (51 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Google is doing well
Your post doesn't line up with the facts.
Posted by t8 (3716 comments )
Link Flag
What are you talking about
First off I am an apple person, but come on Apple does not own "i" everything. Also may I point out the the CEO of Google sits on Apples Board.
Posted by orbital318 (34 comments )
Reply Link Flag
i stands for Internet
Who owns the Internet?
Posted by t8 (3716 comments )
Link Flag
April was last month
What, were the Google Personalized Homepage people feeling left out after Google TPS and GMail Paper? Seriously, is "iGoogle" some sort of Maypril Fools or something?

This is a really, really awful name. The "i" thing has been done to death and we must once and for all cede it to Apple and walk away.

Seriously? I mean, for real? This isn't some kind of joke? It just looks stupid and sounds stupid. Like some cheap rip off copycat from a second-run has-been trying to take one last stab at glory by copying from someone else. Not the market leading innovator.

Ugh, ugh and ugh again.
Posted by TV James (680 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This is news? Microsoft Live has this already
Microsoft's Live service has had these features for going on 3 years now. I don't see what the "news" is. Just because Google copied it and is claiming it as their own.
Posted by rstinnett (41 comments )
Reply Link Flag
That is the funny part
They have had it and no one goes there.
Google has it and everybody wants it.

Says a lot about the brand doesn't it.

Microsoft are learning that being evil has its drawbacks.
Posted by t8 (3716 comments )
Link Flag
i-anything makes me want to puke
The subject says it all.
Posted by tomh162 (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I was suprised in morning, that why my google home page is so different, i noticed igoogle, but i thought it google logo for labour day...i was not able to find any relation with i and labour day...Thanks for giving info...
Posted by amitpagrawal (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I had to rebuild
My only problem is that it blew away the customization that I had already done to the page and tabs that Google had allowed me to setup
Posted by ifiredmyboss.com (51 comments )
Reply Link Flag

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