Like a lot of people, I use iGoogle as my home page, and I really depend on it for quick access to all my web “stuff,” like email, my documents, frequently used bookmarks and my calendar.
A new design for iGoogle was recently unveiled, and for the most part, I like it a lot. The tabs are now down the left side of the page instead of across the top, and all the widgets are listed under each tab. I have 3 tabs and a lot of widgets, which I often forget about if they are buried. So this new design keeps all my useful widgets front and center in my mind.
The Gmail widget underwent the most useful changes. Now you can read the first sentence of the email message inside the widget and perform actions like deleting, archiving and marking as read without opening the Inbox.
Click on a widget’s name underneath the tab and in most cases, a full-screen view of the widget opens, without navigating to a new web page. Some of these are incredibly useful, like the full page weather report for the Weather widget, the front page of the New York Times designed to look like a newspaper and a full map for Driving Directions. Of course, the Google widgets have the most integration. Click Gmail to open your Inbox, Calendar to display a monthly calendar view and Reader to read your articles inside your Google page.
This new integration is useful, but a few bugs have popped up that have made me distrustful that everything is working as it should. For example, links in email messages viewed inside iGoogle are not clickable or do not appear. This renders a lot of web mail useless. And the articles just stop displaying in Google Reader after paging down a few times. I have to start all over again to get them to reappear, and then I wonder if I’ve missed something.
Maybe the new iGoogle isn’t quite ready for prime time. But despite these few bugs — and the ones I have yet to discover — it has become a much more useful tool for me. I just hope Google is quick about fixing the bugs.