Thursday, November 10, 2011

Google Being a Pain

Ask any of my friends. I have been as staunch a user and supporter of Google products as there is. I actually bought my first Gmail account on eBay! I have moved my domain to Google Hosted Apps along with my daughter's. I'm in the process of moving my business' domain there. And what do I get in return? Ill thought out changes and slaps in the face.

Here's my list:
  • Google Calendar events are now pastel colored
  • Gmail formatting problems
  • Google Docs nagging about old version documents
  • Google Reader redesign
  • Gmail "Send feedback" bar

Several of these (Calendar event colors, and some of Reader problems) are part of the new UI redesign that has been sweeping across the Google products since the introduction of Google+ and generally I like them. I'm just hoping that the nagging problems here are fixed in a refresh but ...

Others are more troubling.

The Calendar event colors are just stupid. There's been a huge wailing from the community and practically no response from Google. A couple of the Google Help forum posts are here and here. One of those is entitled "Give us your feedback on the new Google Calendar Look!" 475 posts later they've gotten feedback.

The Gmail formatting issue is much more serious. It seems that Gmail doesn't generate rich text, i.e. html, e-mail that is compliant with Microsoft Outlook (and other clients). The result is that there is a mixture of font faces and sizes in the sent e-mail that are not visible to the sender nor easily avoided. The principal Google Help forum post is here. This is a huge issue with business users who have migrated from clients such as Outlook and now are realizing that their sent e-mails may look unprofessional. The Google employees who have participated in this thread disavow any support of the Labs features which allow e-mail formatting which really rankles most users. My own experience is that this is a problem exclusive to WebKit-based browsers but there likely are several problems here.

After Google Docs upgraded their formats they have been suggesting to "Upgrade your document to the latest version of Google documents." Recently that yellow bar at the top of the screen can't be dismissed. My thread on this is here. There's a ton of reasons that people don't/can't upgrade their documents and many are suspicious that this is foretelling a forced upgrade.

I like the Reader redesign. They took away some of the sharing capabilities and re-instituted some of them in Google+. What has affected me is that PgDn (the Page Down key) doesn't mark the last couple of items in a feed as read. Irritating and clearly something that they didn't test. Recently there's a new red dot appearing in the bottom right corner as you scroll through the feed. Apparently that is an indicator that the feed is being updated but it serves no purpose other than to distract your eye to it. They should have used one of the new pastel colors from the Calendar event palate.

I also like the Gmail redesign. I was using one of their preview templates so visually not much changed. There are lots of new features under the covers though. Similar to the Docs nagging bars, Gmail has added a black bar at the bottom saying "Get Marketplace Apps | About the new look | Send feedback." Again you can dismiss it but it comes back.

Even the Huffington Post did a story on Google's "mistakes."

This is all coming at a bad time for me as I'm trying to convince my co-workers to move our entire business' web and e-mail to Google Hosted Apps.

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