New Google Toolbar beta invades desktops, brings suggestions

Posted on February 26, 2009. Filed under: Google, Internet | Tags: , , , , |

Google’s new IE toolbar beta adds Google Suggest and thumbnails for your most visited sites on blank tabs. It also heralds the arrival of the stand-alone Quick Search Box, a feature previously seen in Google Desktop and a Mac-online client.

By David Chartier

gtoolb6-qsbGoogle has released a beta of Google Toolbar 6 for Internet Explorer. The modest new version brings Google features both old and new to Internet Explorer, and also brings Google’s increasingly thorough search to Toolbar users’ desktops.

The most significant new feature of Toolbar 6 beta is the Quick Search Box (QSB), a search dialog that ironically has nothing to do with the toolbar itself. You may recognize QSB from Google Desktop for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux, or even the scaled down, Mac-only product of the same name released in January. Like a college-bound teenager, QSB lives separately from its IE toolbar brethren in the Windows taskbar. A mouse click or a control-space shortcut invokes its popup dialog for searching the web (with suggestions), local bookmarks, and even applications. As with its other implementations, QSB learns as you use it in an effort to (in theory) identify what you are searching for more quickly. In our brief experience, QSB is fairly smart, able to identify applications by abbreviations (WMP) and clearly present suggestions.

For those who prefer to keep Google in their browser, QSB (and suggestions) can be turned off with a simple right-click.

gtoolb6suggest

Google also built suggestions and sponsored links into Toolbar 6 beta. Suggestions are highlighted with bold type, and sponsored links appear at the bottom of the suggestion drop-down window.

Last on Google’s headliner list for Toolbar 6 beta is a new page layout for blank tabs that features thumbnails of your most visited pages. Nearly every browser vendor is using similar tricks to make more use of blank browser tab pages, including Microsoft with its IE8 beta and Apple with its new Safari 4 beta. Google innovated here a little by displaying not just your most-visited sites, but also the three most recently closed tabs.

gtoolb6-tabs

While some browsers, such as Firefox 3, have adopted some sort of “bring back that tab I just closed” mechanism, this feature in combination with a “most visited” list seems pretty useful for IE users. You can edit which sites appear in the most visited area, but unlike other Google Toolbar settings and preferences, your most visited sites and closed tabs do not synchronize between machines.

Google Toolbar 6 beta definitely brings some interesting features, but the arrival of the Quick Search Box that technically has nothing to do with the toolbar could be read as a sign that Google is running out of ideas for the product. Nevertheless, making search more easy and accessible is usually a good thing, and this is precisely what Toolbar 6 does.

Source: arstechnica

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