Until today, I’ve resisted the charms of iGoogle, the homepage that users can customize with gadgets. Sure, it’s convenient to access various web services (like Google’s own Gmail and Google Reader) from a single page, but the interface was rather cramped. Today, however, gadgets are breaking free through a “canvas view,” which allows users to expand a gadget to fill up the entire page.
Basically, that means iGoogle gadgets can have almost all the functionality (or at least the on-screen real estate) of a normal website, which is a boon for both users and gadget developers. TechCrunch’s Erick Schonfeld notes that it creates space for bigger ads, too. Google is launching with a bunch of canvas-enabled gadgets, including news websites like The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, games like Sudoku and Google sites like Google Finance. You can now navigate while in canvas view through a column on the left listing all your gadgets.
So well done, iGoogle; you’ve made a convert of me. Now please improve the functionality of the two gadgets I plan to use the most — Gmail and Google Reader. In both cases, the left-hand navigation column that’s specific to those services has been stripped out. Presumably, it would be awkward integrating those columns with the overall iGoogle navigation. Here’s the problem: Now it’s a lot less intuitive to drill-down on specific publications in Google Reader, or specific labels in Gmail.
Neither problem will stop me from using iGoogle, but I’m making the switch with a touch of grumpiness.