Goodbye, Google Bar: Black Strip Turns Into Pop-Up

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If you use Gmail, Google Reader, Google+, Google Search, Google Maps — indeed, just about any Google product — you’ve likely become familiar with that black strip across the top of the screen with links to the company’s other services. Google introduced it back in June. Opinions have varied ever since, but many of us have gone with: what on Earth is that ugly thing?

Wonder no longer, because the black bar is going away. In a blog post Wednesday, Google announced it would be replaced with a pop-up that appears when you mouse over the Google logo. There will also be a smaller, less obtrusive light grey bar dominated by a search box.

“Instead of the horizontal black bar at the top of the page, you’ll now find links to your services in a new drop-down Google menu nested under the Google logo,” writes technical lead Eddie Kessler — whose Google profile identifies him as a “cat herder” — in an official announcement blog post. “We’ll show you a list of links and you can access additional services by hovering over the “More” link at the bottom of the list. Click on what you want, and you’re off.”

Kessler describes the new setup as “the next stage in our redesign.” What remains unclear is why Google’s redesign had to go through a “black bar” phase in its evolution in the first place. This is, perhaps, best seen as an illustration of something we’ve pointed out before: that Google’s entire design aesthetic is uninspired and haphazard. We’re still waiting for the company to find its Jonathan Ive of web design.

Detail of Gmail’s Latest Interface

The new desktop version of Gmail is hardly recognizable as the Gmail we once knew.

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