In the early 2000’s, then-Google VP of user experience Marissa Mayer used to get mysterious emails from a complete stranger, each containing only a single number: 45, 52, 56. Finally she figured it out: The person was emailing her every time Google added a word to its famously bare-bones home page, annoyed that it was getting more cluttered!
What will that Google user do now?
According to some testing code that Google Operating System caught in the wild, Google is testing a Google Now experience for its home page. Google Now, of course, is the home screen on the latest versions of Android, which brings together relevant and contextual information like weather, traffic conditions, how your favorite stocks are doing, whether your sports teams won, and so on.
“Just the right information at just the right time,” Google said. Now it’s testing that mobile experience on the web.
Sounds almost … Yahoo-ish?
The code on the page in testing shows functionality that will allow Google users to set and edit their home and work locations, as well as their current location, and “Discover Google Now.” Presumably, those location settings — as well as other preferences entered — would create a customized page with news, events, personal information, and perhaps even Google offers or deals close to you.
Google has long had iGoogle, a personalized homepage with your latest mail, calendar events, weather, tweets, bookmarks, and more. It’s — frankly — an ugly, almost awkward widget-ized implementation of what Google Now has become on Android phones, and nowhere near Google’s current level of user interface sophistication.
It has also conveniently been scheduled for “retirement.” In an announcement dated April 8, just a couple of weeks ago, Google said it will retire iGoogle on November 1, 2013. The reason? A Google Now-like experience on mobile:
We originally launched iGoogle in 2005 before anyone could fully imagine the ways that today’s web and mobile apps would put personalized, real-time information at your fingertips. With modern apps that run on platforms like Chrome and Android, the need for something like iGoogle has eroded over time …
Almost certainly, a Google Now for the web would include integration with Google+, the social glue between each of Google’s services. And in fact, this might be seen as a way to drive more of the social features of that network to the average user of Google’s search engine who does not currently use that social network.
If Google is planning to release a Google Now product for the web, presumably it would do so some time before iGoogle is fully retired.
I’ve asked Google for comment and will update this post with the company’s response.
Image credit: Google