Although the calendar has flipped to October and, at least in New England, the leaves are starting to change color, Google is still avidly pursuing a strategy of “spring cleaning.” The latest accomplishment in Google’s effort to eliminate obsolete and redundant technology features is the termination (or revamping) of seven more features.
Let’s briefly review the latest casualties of the Google spring cleaning program which, like Bob Dylan’s world concert tour, does not appear to have a definitive end:
- AdSense for Feeds: Made redundant by Google-powered FeedBurner URLs, this service, designed to help place ads on RSS feeds, starts the retirement process immediately -- and will officially terminate on December 3.
- Classic Plus: Google users will no longer be able to upload new pictures from Google search to use as a Google.com background as of October 16. This feature will be phased out in November. Users will still be allowed to format existing Google search pictures for their Google.com background.
- Google Storage: Google will consolidate Picasa and Drive storage in the next few months, providing 5GB of free storage across both services and counting free storage toward total storage used in paid plans.
- Spreadsheet Gadgets: Citing the common direct addition of popular gadgets (customized features) in spreadsheet charts, Google will phase out this technology service next year.
- Google News Badges/Recommended Sections: Both will be eliminated on October 15, although users will still be allowed to add custom news sections and adjust the frequency of news sources.
- Insights for Search: Google has merged this feature into Google Trends. Google also will no longer support Trends for Websites, which allowed the comparison of traffic to and audiences of different websites.
- Places Directory: Google is removing this Android App and its associated website because Google Maps for Mobile offers a “much better user experience.”
- +1 Reports: Google is eliminating standalone +1 Reports on November 14, because publishers can now use +1 Reports in Webmaster Tools and Social Reports in Google Analytics.
Google Turns Back on Gamification
Despite the high amount of attention gamification has been receiving lately, one of Google’s spring cleaning targets -- Google Badges -- is essentially a gamification feature designed to increase Google News Readership. Calling the service “quasi-gamification,” PC Magazine stated, “For those who turned to Google's News Badges as a means for validating their noses for news, Google's officially discontinuing the gamification-like icons that would previously indicate one's appreciation for a particular type of news -- like a ‘Harry Potter’ badge, if all you do is read articles about the boy wizard.”
Google News readers could previously earn badges across five different enthusiasm tiers: Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Ultimate. Validation of consuming news on a particular topic will now (presumably) have to come via social media conversations and blog postings.
Summer Cleaning Eliminates Apps for Teams, Video for Business
Google’s most recent previous spring cleaning effort occurred in August 2012, when the company discontinued its Google Apps for Teams, Google Listen and Google Video for Business services, as well as select Google-created blogs. The August group generally consisted of lesser-known and used features.
Google has eliminated or revamped close to 60 technology features since launching its spring cleaning program in fall 2011.