Thursday, 3 October 2013
Google Does Away with The Black Bar
This week Google replaced the familiar black bar with what some have called a "new navigation bar", but most people I know are calling a "grid". I believe its official name is the "App Launcher." Regardless, there are an array of squares in a pattern in the upper right hand of Google pages on which one clicks for a drop down menu to access Google's various services. Now I have encountered a few people who like this change. They think the grid takes up less space than the black bar and they think it is more aesthetically pleasing. I know yet others who are indifferent to both the black bar and the grid. I know even more people, including myself, who hate the grid and really want the black bar back.
Of course, the fact that it takes more clicks to get to the services I use is directly related to my other major complaint about the new "App Launcher'. Quite simply, it does not take into account the Google services I use the most. Beside the array of boxes are links to Google+, Gmail, and Images. I do not use Gmail, so it is useless to even have the link there. To reach YouTube or Blogger, services I actually use, I have to open the drop down menu. If they absolutely had to do away with the black bar (and I don't think they did), it would have been nice if they had taken into account the services we use the most (one would think Google would have access to that information) or given us the ability to customise the menu.
Another, admittedly minor objection I have to the "app launcher" is, well, it's ugly. I much preferred the sleek black bar to this grey array of squares on a white background. What is more, the drop down menu isn't particularly pretty either. It consists of icons that seem rather too large to me. I just find the whole thing very unattractive.
Of course, I know many who hated the old black bar complained about the space it occupied. Now why anyone would complain about space in a day and age when computer monitors have resolutions like 1366×768 and 1280x1024 I don't know. That having been said, there are times when this new "app launcher" occupies more space on the screen than the black bar. The black bar was simply a thin band at the top of the screen. When the app launcher is open it occupies a good part of the right side of one's screen, much more than the black bar. If one has to go to a service not listed in the upper part of the box, then one has to click "more" and as a result the box opens up to occupy even more of the screen. It seems to me that if one is concerned about screen "real estate", then, they would actually want the black bar back!
For now my solution to the problem of this new Google grid has been to simply place Blogger and YouTube on my bookmark bar on Firefox. I hardly think this is what Google necessarily wanted and I certainly don't find it desirable either (I usually keep the bookmark bar hidden--okay, I guess I am a little concerned about screen space). Unfortunately, it seems that it will have to do until such time as Google restores the black bar (a distinct possibility given the amount of hatred directed at the new grid) or they make the "App Launcher" customisable.